Lucky 7 & Some Introductions

Lucky 7…Years That is…

On March 16, 2010, I wrote my first blog post titled My First Entry. I remember wondering how many people would read it. 1,361 posts later and I’m now looking forward to my 7 year blogiversary. I’ve been wanting to rebrand my blog and hope to (FINALLY) do it this year.

Growing Up

As the kids have grown, so has my blog. You won’t see me sharing as many personal stories about them anymore. That’s because they are aware of my blog and what I write about. They are old enough to say “Please don’t blog about this” and “Please don’t put that picture on Facebook.” I have to respect their privacy because anything I put out there about them will follow them forever.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll never write about them. They have become part of my blog. You may have noticed that we’ve done some video reviews together, and they’d like to get more involved.

Ethan wants to start recording videos about books he likes and why he likes them. He also has been thinking about writing about things that other kids his age might like. Maybe a blog in his future? I’m not sure, but until he gets older, he will have his own space here.

Lila and Mia love creating little videos, too. About Shopkins and American Girls and all kinds of things they like to play with. Lila would also like to start sharing recipes for kids. So you’ll be seeing more of them here, too.

Say Hello

I also am bringing on my first regular contributors! I’m keeping it in the family. I can’t wait for you to meet them!

11232997_10206886595913657_7539198009264464455_nSay hello to my sister Angie, with her daughter Sydney. Syd is the same exactly 1 month older than the girls. She’s a working mom of four: Lexi is 20, Nikki is 16, Sydney is 7, and Aaron is 4.

She loves to cook and have people over to her house. She’s a great hostess and an amazing cook. She’s also one of my best friends.

She has shared recipes here on my blog before and even has her own category called From My Sister Angie’s Kitchen.

She’ll be sharing even more recipes as well as kitchen tips, tricks, and timesavers. She may even review products for teens and younger kids, books, and anything else she wants to talk about.

 

 

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Also say hi to my soon-to-be-sister-in-law, Danielle. She’s a stay-at-home-mom of two under two (Presley and Sawyer are only 14 months apart!) When I started this blog, I had three under three so I know how hard her days are.

She just recently fell in love with cooking, and so she will share quick and easy recipes that get the stamp of approval from my brother and Little Presley (whom we call P.)

She also loves to write, and will be musing about being a new mom, as well as reviewing and sharing her must have mom and baby products.

She’s also a pinning fanatic like me and you can find and follow her on Pinterest.

 

 

 

 

I’m really excited about these new, exciting changes and taking Mommy of a Monster to a whole other level.

All that being said, I have a few questions for you! I’ve been toying with the idea of changing the name of my blog. Let me know what you think!

Weight Watchers Light String Cheese Snack Ideas

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Weight Watchers as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

New year, new promises to myself to take better care of myself and lose weight. Last year in June, I started Weight Watchers (which, by the way, I LOVE and highly recommend) with a group of friends and lost almost 20 pounds by October! I was extremely proud of myself. Then the holidays came around, and let’s just say that I am looking forward to getting back on track. I’m a huge snacker, so instead of eating big meals each day I do a lot of little snacks here and there. One of my favorites is Weight Watchers Light String Cheese.

At only 1 Smart Points per serving, Weight Watchers Light String Cheese is a delicious and versatile snack if your a cheese lover! Snack ideas included.

What makes this string cheese the ideal snack is that it’s cheese, which is my favorite thing in the world, and it’s only 1 SmartPoints per serving! That’s almost as good as free!

This string cheese doesn’t taste like a “fat free” or “diet” cheese. It’s made from milk and is full of flavor – it has an amazing taste you have to try to believe. Not only is Weight Watchers Light String Cheese delicious, the individually wrapped string cheese offers portion control and are a great snack whether you’re home or on the go. The kids love it, too.

Weight Watchers Light String Cheese Snack Ideas

Since I eat Weight Watchers Light String Cheese almost daily, I thought I’d share some of my favorite snacks!

At only 1 Smart Points per serving, Weight Watchers Light String Cheese is a delicious and versatile snack if your a cheese lover! Snack ideas included.

When I’m home, this is my favorite snack. Grapes and cheese. It’s only 1 Smart Points total. Since fruits and veggies are free points, I eat a lot of them. Sometimes I’ll freeze the grapes, but most of the time I just grab some and call it good. A sweet sliced up apple is yummy too. Whether I’m working or watching TV, this is the kind of snack that satisfies me.

At only 1 Smart Points per serving, Weight Watchers Light String Cheese is a delicious and versatile snack if your a cheese lover! Snack ideas included.

This is my go-to on-the-go snack; a package of Jack Link’s Beef Steak and a Weight Watchers Light String Cheese. This is one I also go to when I’m starving or feel like I need a meal instead of just a snack. The beef steak is also only 1 Smart Points, so for a total of 2 Smart Points, this one is one of my favorite, filling snacks.

At only 1 Smart Points per serving, Weight Watchers Light String Cheese is a delicious and versatile snack if your a cheese lover! Snack ideas included.

And this one can be an appetizer or a snack! These Caprese Bites are mine (and Lila’s) fave. Just swap out the mozzarella balls for cut up pieces of Weight Watchers Light String Cheese. 11 bites are just 2 Smart Points!

You can also cut up a Light String Cheese into pieces and add it to some arugula, tomatoes, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a super easy salad.

Or simply wrap a piece of deli meat (pepper turkey is my favorite!) around the Light String Cheese for a protein powered snack.

Now that you see how versatile – and delicious! – this Weight Watchers Light String Cheese is, head to Walmart to get some for yourself! Now through January 31, you can even use this Digital Savings offer and save $1.00 on 2 Weight Watchers Cheese items at Walmart.

At only 1 Smart Points per serving, Weight Watchers Light String Cheese is a delicious and versatile snack if your a cheese lover! Snack ideas included.

Worried you may not like the taste? Don’t be. Great Taste GuaranCheesed! Love it or get your money back. If you’re concerned about the taste of the product, Weight Watchers is providing a money back guarantee offer valid from January 1, 2017 – April 30, 2017.   Full Terms & Conditions as well as rebate details can be found at www.TakeTheGreatTasteChallenge.com. So there’s no reason for you not to try it for yourself!

What fun ways do you choose to eat your Weight Watchers Light String Cheese?

Shopkins Chef Club Makes the Perfect Gift For Your Budding Chef!

104012m_brandpg-scroller_spkLila LOVES to help me in the kitchen. She’s learning knife skills, learning to read recipes and how to measure out the necessary ingredients, and even cleans up after herself! She also loves Shopkins, so this year I got lucky because the Season 6 Shopkins is called Chef Club. So if you’re shopping for a future chef like I am, Shopkins Chef Club makes the perfect gift. But it’s not the only reason why Shopkins makes a great gift – Shopkins also helps the girls think and play creatively.

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift!

Why We Love Shopkins Chef Club

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift!

Shopkins Chef Club categories include Family Food, Breakfast, Sweets and Bakery. The characters are ingredients that can be combined with other characters to make all new recipes.

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift!

The new playsets, like the Hot Spot Kitchen and Sparkle Clean Washer, all connect together to build a Chef Club world.

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift!

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift!

There are also some cool features with the Chef Club characters. This season, the characters come with all new finishes, including color-changing! And each character also comes with a QR code on the bottom that can be scanned with the Shopkins Chef Club app, bringing the characters to life. The girls are both enjoying the app, and it’s also an easy way for them to keep track of which characters they have. They said that the app makes them want to collect even more Shopkins!

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift!

The girls are not the only one who loves Shopkins. I think Shopkins are perfect for creative and imaginative play.  The girls like to give each other ingredients and then they make up their own recipes. They challenge each other to come up with the most creative recipe, and it’s fun to watch them think about what they could make with a bunch of ingredients that don’t necessarily go together. Lila told me it’s “Just like on Top Chef.”

If you have a child who loves to cook or wants to be a chef, Shopkins Chef Club characters and playsets make a perfect gift! Lila looking for the ingredients to make an apple pie. She wanted to make sure that I told you that the Apple Pie Alice character is very rare.

Another way Lila plays with the Shopkins in a creative way is that she uses them to spell out her spelling words. She struggles with spelling, so even though it takes a lot longer than if she just wrote them out, she enjoys using her Shopkins to spell out the words and this has actually improved her spelling!

Shopkins is only one of Moose Toys‘ brands that promote creative and imaginary play. Check out all of their brands and let me know which are your children’s favorites!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Winter Fest 2016: Check Out So Cal’s Ultimate Winter Experience!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post about Winter Fest 2016 on behalf of Gigasavvy. All opinions are my own.

Here in So Cal, we don’t really get a whole lot of winter. It gets cold (those of you reading anywhere east of us are probably laughing about our idea of “cold”) and occasionally we’ll even have to put on boots or tennis shoes instead of just wearing flip flops. So to say my kids haven’t really ever experienced winter is an understatement. That’s why I’m looking forward to taking them to Winter Fest 2016 at the the OC Fair & Event Center!

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My kids have never even been in real snow. A few years back, it did snow here in our town but it barely even covered the ground and was gone by the end of the day.

At Winter Fest 2016, they blow snow in daily and there will be enough of it for the kids to make their first snow angels, build a snowman, and even try snow tubing! Best of all, it’s included in the price of admission so you don’t have to pay extra for it!

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There’s even an ice skating ring so they can try out ice skating for the first time!

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There is a ton of attractions at Winter Fest 2016, and while the kids are excited about snow, I’ve got lots of other things I want to check out!

One thing we love to do as a family is look at Christmas lights. We bundle up in the car and drive around looking at all the decorations and lights. At the Festival of Lights, we’ll can stroll through a 2 million light illuminated pathway to explore 10 holiday themed lands. I think I’m most excited about this!

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And don’t judge me, but my kids have never been to a Tree Lighting Ceremony before (I actually haven’t either), so I’m really looking forward to seeing one. Every night at 5:30, you can watch the 30 foot tall Christmas tree light up!

And so much more to do: from the Candy Cane Carnival (Carnival tickets are $1. A pack of 16 tickets is $14 and a pack of 36 is $28. All carnival tickets sold onsite. An unlimited ride wristband is available online for $20,) to festive entertainment, seasonal eateries, to visits with Santa and so much more. Check out this video showing all the fun!

Additional Winter Fest 2016 Information

Kids 3 and under are free. parking is on site and $8 Season passes are also available. Get all the ticket info, dates of operation and hours here. Psst! Purchase your tickets online and use the promo code HOLIDAY to save $5!

Winter Fest 2016 Dates: December 16th thru January 1st

Winter Fest Located at: 88 Fair Dr, Costa Mesa, CA 92626

Follow Winter Fest on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with all of the holiday fun So Cal style!

Sounds like a blast, right? I have a Family 4 pack of tickets for one lucky So Cal reader! Enter below and good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin ::Book Review::

Disclaimer: This is an advertisement for SheSpeaks/St. Martins Press.  I received this book in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.

Although I don’t have as much free time as I’d like, one thing I still make time for is reading. I am a bookworm and always have been. Luckily Ethan has also picked up my love of reading, and we have read many books together, including some of my favorites from when I was a kid.

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read! Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

I’m also a huge fan of historical fiction. I love being taken back to a time and place that I’ve never been – to situations I’ll never be in myself. Where I can learn about history and the ways people lived. When manners and traditions mattered. Where appearances and family connections were everything. I love reading the Brontë sisters, Lisa See, and Jane Austen. And now, I can add Daisy Goodwin to the list. I am currently reading Victoria by Daisy Goodwin, and I cannot put it down!

Victoria Overview

Goodreads says,

In 1837, less than a month after her eighteenth birthday, Alexandrina Victoria – sheltered, small in stature, and female – became Queen of Great Britain and Ireland. Many thought it was preposterous: Alexandrina — Drina to her family — had always been tightly controlled by her mother and her household, and was surely too unprepossessing to hold the throne. Yet from the moment William IV died, the young Queen startled everyone: abandoning her hated first name in favor of Victoria; insisting, for the first time in her life, on sleeping in a room apart from her mother; resolute about meeting with her ministers alone.  One of those ministers, Lord Melbourne, became Victoria’s private secretary. Perhaps he might have become more than that, except everyone argued she was destined to marry her cousin, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. But Victoria had met Albert as a child and found him stiff and critical: surely the last man she would want for a husband….  Drawing on Victoria’s diaries as well as her own brilliant gifts for history and drama, Daisy Goodwin, author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter as well as creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria, brings the young queen even more richly to life in this magnificent novel.”

I also love to read historical fiction is because I’m taken into another world, totally foreign to me. In Victoria, I get to see what it’s like to become a queen through a young girl’s eyes. Goodwin captures this view drawing from Queen Victoria’s diaries, which she first started reading when she was a student at Cambridge University. She brings the young nineteenth-century monarch to life; Victoria would reign for 63 years, have 9 children and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Victoria takes us to the early years of the Victorian era, a place that I didn’t know much about before starting to read the book.

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read! Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Book Review: Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Imagine this: You turn eighteen and within a month’s time, you are awoken early one morning with the news that your uncle William IV has died and that you are now Queen of England; Queen of the world’s greatest nation. How would you handle the news? Would you be excited or terrified? Talk about pressure!

That’s why I loved Victoria by Daisy GoodwinWe get to see her grow not only in years but in maturity and wisdom. And this queen will not be told what to do. The men who run the country (and even her own mother) have doubts about whether this young woman, who isn’t even five feet tall, can take on such a huge responsibility.

Yet despite her age, she knows exactly the kind of queen she plans to be. One of her first decisions has to do with her name: “I do not like the name Alexandrina,” she proclaims. “From now on I wish to be known only by my second name, Victoria.”

Victoria learns quickly whom she can and can’t trust. Lord Melbourne, the prime minister, is the first person that believes in her and he helps her learn how to be a queen.  As she learns to be queen she is also being pressured to marry. She’s not interested in marrying, but she does end up marrying Prince Albert.

Here’s what Amanda Foreman, British/American biographer and historian, said about the book:

“Victoria is an absolutely captivating novel of youth, love, and the often painful transition from immaturity to adulthood. Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria’s story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit.”

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read! Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Thoughts on Victoria

There were times that I felt bad for Victoria because of how her mother treated her (she wasn’t even allowed her own room; up until she become queen she slept in her mother’s room) but other times I thought she was stubborn, extremely unpleasant, and arrogant. But I guess as a ruler, those are qualities that you must have to get things done.

I enjoyed hating Conroy, who along with Victoria’s mother, tried to control everything she did. I wanted to high five Victoria every time she  got the upper hand on him!

I really enjoyed this book. When I had about 50 more pages to go I started dragging my feet because I don’t want it to end!

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read. Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Goodwin spiraled me back into the Victorian age and I loved the ride. Certain parts of the story were intense – I wanted to read “just one more page” and then “just one more chapter.” That to me makes for a fantastic novel. Victoria was a complicated woman who grew up dealing with responsibilities and issues that I can’t even imagine having to deal with. I had fun getting to know her and her world.

About Victoria by Daisy Goodwin

Daisy Goodwin is also the creator and writer of the new PBS/Masterpiece drama Victoria (catch it in January 2017) and author of the bestselling novels The American Heiress and The Fortune Hunter. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Sounds like a fun ride, doesn’t it? You can preorder Victoria on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble today! Otherwise you’ll find it everywhere November 22nd.

Victoria by Daisy Goodwin now holds a place as one of my all time favorite reads. What are some of your favorites?

If you like historical fiction, Victoria by Daisy Goodwin is a must read. Victoria reigns for 63 years, has 9 children, and a fairy tale love with her husband Albert. Couldn't put it down!

Natalie’s Bookshelf: All Time Favorites

Victoria
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites
Love You When You Whine
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites and childhood
And the Mountains Echoed
really liked it
tagged:
all-time-favorites
The Storyteller
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites
The Fault in Our Stars
it was amazing
tagged:
all-time-favorites

 


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