I’m a bad mom. That’s right, I said it. I let my three-year-old daughter watch videos and play games on the iPad. Before my daughter turned one, I was super admit that I would really limit her screen time and only use the iPad or phones every once in a blue moon. Then Olivia turned two and things got real! If you’ve ever had a two-year-old or have even been around one for a short period of time, you know what I’m talking about. I’ve lost track of the number of times those devices have prevented meltdowns, allowed me to eat dinner, have a conversation or even use the restroom in peace.
Ok, I don’t really think I’m a bad mom. Olivia has actually learned a lot using the iPad by playing different educational apps. There are quite a few she loves to play, but my favorites are from Toca Boca. These games are so much fun, I even take a turn.
Toca Boca is an award-winning play studio that makes digital apps for kids. According to the company’s website, “We make digital toys and games that help stimulate the imagination.”
My friend Stacy showed me the Toca Boca apps and I couldn’t believe how fun they were. They really do allow you to tap into your imagination. So far, we’ve downloaded around five of the 36 apps they have available. The ones we currently have on our iPad are:
Toca Kitchen: The app allows you to choose and prepare food for hungry characters. You can slice carrots, fry fish or puree broccoli. You can cook and combine any of the food items available.
Toca Hair Salon: You can run your own Hair Salon using this app by cutting, coloring, combing and blow-drying hair on six different characters. You can create any hair style you want.
Toca Pet Doctor: This one is my favorite! In this app, you get to take care of 15 animals who need your loving care. Through innovative play you can help a dove, clean up a puppy, fix a bird’s wing or untwist a worm.
Toca House: You can help five friends to fun chores around the house by doing dishes, ironing, sweeping or planting flowers in the garden.
Toca Store: This app is so much fun. You can go to the store, pick out your groceries and pay using coins in the cash register.
I can’t say it enough. These apps are so much fun, you’ll be stealing them away from your kids so you can take a turn. Download them now and let us know which ones are your favorites!
My little one is obsessed withDaniel Tiger, the children’s show on PBS, so I wasn’t surprised when she said she wanted a Daniel Tiger birthday party. Unfortunately, while party shopping, I learned there are not a lot of Daniel Tiger party items in stores or online. I had to get a little creative and come up with a few ideas myself. Take a look below to see how I pulled off a Daniel Tiger worthy party!
Invitations: While scrolling through Pinterest, I saw the cutest invitations that looked like a trolley ticket from the show. I was so excited that I could buy the download and make these invitations in no time. Wrong. The link didn’t work and I couldn’t find this style of invitation anywhere. Of course it was stuck in my head so I had to have these invitations. I pulled out my computer and used some good old fashioned photoshop and made my own. They aren’t perfect but I think they turned out pretty cute!
Decorations Since I couldn’t find decorations in the store, I decided to go to thePBS websiteand found a page dedicated to throwing a Daniel Tiger birthday party. They have some really cute DIY ideas and lots of printables. I used some of the printablse and put them around the house and on the front door. I also used balloons (lots and lots of balloons) to make the house look more festive.
Bounce House Since the kids attending the party were different ages, ranging from one to seven, I decided the best way to keep everyone entertained and happy was to have a bounce house. I’ve never rented one before so I started looking online to see what options were available. Most places will deliver and set-up, but after looking at some bids, it started to become a little pricey. I decided to go with Supersonic in Bountiful and they were great to work with. We picked up the bounce house in the morning and brought it back that evening, giving Olivia more time to bounce to her hearts content after the party ended. By doing it ourselves, we saved around $100. I think we can count that as a win!
Piñata Another fun way to include kids of all ages is to have a piñata. Everyone got a turn since we let the youngest kids go first and worked our way up to the oldest. I made sure to have paper bags for all of the kids to collect their loot and everyone ended up with some extra sugar to take home! Since I couldn’t find a Daniel Tiger themed Piñata, I decided to go with a colorful one that looked like a present. It was perfect.
Trolley One way to incorporate more of Danielle Tiger into the party, I decided to build a trolley to use as a photo prop. I saw a couple ideas online and just happened to have an oversized cardboard box on hand. Using a knife and some paint, my husband and I were able to create our masterpiece. It was a perfect way to get the kids to take some pictures and looked super cute with the rest of the party decorations.
Cake My mom loves to make birthday cakes and does a really good job! She used to make all of mine growing up and I loved them. The one thing Olivia wanted more than anything at her party was a Danielle Tiger cake. Since we couldn’t find a Danielle Tiger cake pan, she made a couple round cakes and started decorating. She did such a good job and Olivia loved it. For her family party, my mom made another cake and incorporated Danielle Tiger figurines that stood around a trolley. It was really clever.
Favors My mom is known for making chocolate suckers, I don’t think I’ve had a birthday party without them. I found theseadorable Daniel Tiger sucker moldsonline for under $5. I printed out a cute card from the PBS website and attachedeverything to colorful bubble sticks.
Summer might be coming to an end, but that means the best season of all is upon us….fall. There are of course the obvious reasons as to why this is my favorite time of year (hello pumpkin everything) but one reason I love the fall is because I can actually enjoy getting outside and hiking with my family. The temperature is 100 percent more to my liking for being active and you get to enjoy the leaves changing color with the beautiful scenery.
Lucky for me, my husband is Mr. Outdoors and is always keeping me fully stocked with everything and anything I could possibly need for hiking and camping. Whether I’m planning a short hike or a longer adventure, there are a few items I always bring along.
Flight 18 Peregrine Pack
This pack is great for easy day trips along the trail. It has a roll-top to keep debris from getting in, but makes it super easy to slide gear in and out through the wide opening. Another plus is you can roll up the excess bag to keep it more compact or even fold it into a zippered pocket to pack down to fit inside a purse or jacket. How awesome is that?!
BugBand If you hate the smell of bug spray as much as I do, BugBands are a fun way to ward off unwanted insects without a sticky smelly mess. These bands can be worn on your wrist, ankle, backpack or even pet collars and will work for 120 hours. BugBands are safe for kids and come in a lot of fun colors.
Adventure Medical Kit
The number one thing I always make sure to take with me, NO MATTER WHAT, is a medical kit. The Adventure Medical Kit is awesome because you can restock what you need without wasting money on a whole new kit. They offer a wide variety of kits from 1-person basic kits, to multi-person multi-day rated kits for the big adventures. You can even go as far as getting one that’s waterproof. Believe me, they are worth every penny!
My husband always makes fun of me because I’m a nervous nelly when it comes to wildlife, especially with my daughter around. So I tend to keep bear spray with me just in case.
This is an absolute MUST to take on any trip, whether a short hike or big adventure. A head lamp can save your life by either guiding you out of a bad spot if you get lost and end up staying out longer than expected. It can even be used as a signal device in the event of needing assistance. You never know
If you haven’t heard of this, you’re missing out. The go-girl is awesome. All I can say is it’s a lot easier to use this then figuring out another way to go on a trail.
If you have some time to kill, this is a great way to relax on the trail or at a campsite. It’s super light making it easy to pack and comes in a variety of colors.
Nalgene Bottle We love Nalgene in our home because they will not shatter or crack. They are BPA free and come in a million different colors and styles!
If you’re looking for some fun hiking options around Northern Utah, click here!
If you’re like me (and everyone else I know) you sometimes get in a rut when it comes to making dinner. At my house, we have our five go-to meals: spaghetti, tacos, pizza, pot roast and eating out! I finally reached a breaking point when not eating started sounding better than actually making the same boring dinner over and over again. That’s when my husband and I decided it was time to give Blue Apron a try. We’ve been cooking with Blue Apron now for about two months and we absolutely love it. Not only do we get to try a variety of new meals, we have fun learning about new techniques and ingredients. With a toddler running around the kitchen during meal prep it might not be a relaxing experience, but we are enjoying our time together in the kitchen.
Below are a few of my thoughts on our Blue Apron experience so far.
Flexibility My friend told me about Blue Apron and sent me three free meals to check it out and see if I like it. I went online to redeem my freebies and noticed I had to put in a credit card number along with my personal information. I’m always hesitant to sign up for a service like this because I don’t want to commit to something long-term, especially if it costs a good amount of money. I almost didn’t move forward because I didn’t want to get stuck paying $60 per week if I didn’t end up liking it. However, I noticed there was no long-term commitment required and you can cancel at any time. The best part about it is you can even cancel from week to week. So when I’m going to go on vacation or have plans during the week, I can cancel my meals for that week and resume when it’s more convenient. You can also personalize your meals each week to your preference of beef, poultry, pork, fish or vegetarian.
(Unfortunately, all the meals are assembled in the same facility so you won’t want to order Blue Apron if you have a food allergy.)
Blue Apron posts the following week’s menu on the website or in the app a week in advance so you have the opportunity to choose your meals. With my plan of three meals per week, I can choose between six options.
Pricing We were a little unsure about the price tag, seeing as how the plan we chose equals about $20 per meal. In theory, that’s just as much as going out to dinner, but then you add-on tax, tip and possibly desert, so we figured it was still cheaper. The other thing we’ve noticed since using Blue Apron, is we only go to the grocery store once per week and have reduced the amount of money we spend on groceries. Since we’ve signed up we haven’t noticed a negative effect on our pocket-book and it’s forced us to eat at home instead of spending money at a restaurant.
Blue Apron has a couple meal plansto choose from depending on your family size and the number of meals you want to receive each week. Delivery is free so you don’t have to worry about any additional cost.
3 meals per week – 2 servings = $59.94
2 meals per week – 4 servings = $69.92
4 meals per week – 4 servings = $139.84
Freshness When researching Blue Apron, one of the benefits that really stood out was the food quality. Blue Apron has a direct relationship with farmers and suppliers so food is boxed and shipped at peak freshness with minimal time in transit. Another huge benefit (especially to my family) is all animals are raised without any added hormones or antibiotics.
You might be wondering how the food tastes, since it comes in a box…in the mail. (I know, it sounds a little crazy.) All food comes in a refrigerated box with ice packs to keep everything cold and fresh. So you don’t need to worry about being home when your box is delivered.
Prep Each box includes a recipe card with step-by-step instructions and color photos, which makes cooking the meal super easy. So far, every meal has been very easy to follow. One of the things I like most about Blue Apron is that all the ingredients are included. If you need a little splash of vinegar, it’s included. If you need one egg, it’s included. The only ingredients you have to provide yourself are olive oil, salt and pepper. What makes this so great is if I wanted to cook these meals on my own, it would cost me a lot more money to buy a whole jar of a certain spice I would never use again. This way, I get to try a unique recipe without committing to a bunch of ingredients that will end up sitting on the shelf.
I’m honestly not a fan of having to cut and prep all of the produce, mostly because it takes a lot of time and I always end up managing to cut myself! However, I will say that preparing everything has shown us new techniques and ways of preparing simple foods in a way I would have never thought before. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to my husband, “I never knew how easy it was to make a sauce” and “I would have never thought of using those ingredients together”. We’ve also learned about fancy techniques like “blanching”! Following these recipes has really opened our eyes to the way we prepare food and combine ingredients.
Blue Apron has an app that is pretty awesome. You can browse entire recipe collection, how-to videos and cooking tips. You can also use the app to customize your menu and manage your deliveries.
Bottom Line All of the meals (except for two) have been incredibly delicious. When I look at the menu for the following week, I’ll be honest that I’m not always excited about what is coming. But then the moment we sit down to eat, I’m always satisfied with what we’ve made. This experience has really opened our eyes on the types of meals we can make at home. Another benefit, is the meals are super healthy and are perfectly portioned so you don’t overeat. It’s been a great experience and we will continue to use Blue Apron moving forward.
The only complaint I have about Blue Apron is the amount of time it takes to cook each meal. As a working mom of a toddler, I look for fast and easy options when cooking. This whole process has opened my eyes to the variety of food I can cook for dinner, however, we don’t end up actually eating until 8 o’clock! The cooking process is really fun and provides a fun activity for my husband and I to do together. However, most of the time one of us is rushing around after our daughter while the other one is trying to prep all the ingredients. It would be nice if everything already came chopped and prepared, but then I guess you would lose in the freshness of your food and the experience of making the meal beginning to end.
If you would like to give Blue Apron a try, I have three free meals to give to five people. Comment below and I’ll send an email your way! If you already use Blue Apron, let us know about your experience.