Sunday, September 14, 2014

False Alarm.

Well, friends. I hate to wave the white flag, but after 3 weeks of trying to muster the energy to write a witty and helpful blog post at 3 am, sadly I think I must.

I love writing this blog, making new friends and sharing our fun, but having a crazy wild 19 month old is no joke. I have zero energy left when she finally crashes for the night. The idea of editing photos and giving instructions when I finally, in the wee hours of the morning, have a second of free time makes me want to cry.

So, I'm going into blog retirement. Not forever, but for now. 

I've started home preschooling Kinley and our first unit all about her current obsession, dinosaurs, is going, well, DINOMITE! ;) That's another reason I kind of feel like I need to put the blog on pause. When I spend so much time documenting our projects, I miss all the fun with my little, and by the time I have all the photos I need for a post, she's over it.

I am still posting simple projects and recipes once in awhile on Facebook, so if you happen to miss us or wanna catch-up, just find Raising Kinley on there and it'll be like we never retired :) 

Thanks for hanging out with us! I'm sad! And the great Tigger once said, TTFN (ta-ta for now!) 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Almost ready for our come back!

Hey there!! Wow, have I been horrible about blogging this summer...

Kinley and I have been concentrating on playing outside and going to the zoo like it's our job, and haven't had much time for blog-worthy activities, I guess.

But, never fear SuperFan, we will be back in September with a whole bunch of new stuff, recipes, lists of favorites, and a recap of all of our adventures that I have been too tired/lazy to share.

Summer vacation is coming to an end and we are getting ready to give home-preschool a go! Anybody have any thoughts about important things to focus on for kiddos who are two-ish? 

We sure hope you've had an awesome, adventure-filled summer!! 

See you in September :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Have a Bite of Sunshine!

In honor of the late Sophia Petrillo, and the fact that pizza is Italian, allow me to set the scene...picture it: small town in Illinois, 1994. Pampered Chef party, hosted by one of my mom's best friends and put on by the mom of my best friend. 

Twenty ladies and their children listen as Jeri works her magic, telling about all the wonders of the products she is selling, just like an infomercial, but even better because she is hilarious and the ultimate people person/saleswoman.

And then, cue the singing angels, she brings out the trays of snacks prepared on/with her miraculous kitchen gadgets. And one of those snacks just happens to be, you guessed it, COOL VEGGIE PIZZA.

Summery veggies, creamy tangy "sauce"'s like taking a bite of sunshine. When I'm craving warm weather food in the middle of winter, this is exactly what I dream of.

I've changed the recipe a million times, but it always tastes delicious. Cool Veggie Pizza just happens to be one of my all-time favorite foods (if you couldn't figure that out by the fact that I remember every detail of the Pampered Chef party twenty years ago where I had my first taste) and one of my go-to potluck recipes. The girls at work used to go bananas for this stuff, and I guess it's time to share my secret recipe.

Here's your ingredient list:

One roll of refrigerated pizza dough (I generally ALWAYS burn the first one, so maybe buy two just in case.)
Your favorite raw veggies, cleaned and chopped (Dave likes cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers, and black olives the best, but sometimes I add zucchini or carrots or broccoli.)
One 8 oz package of cream cheese
One cup of sour cream
One packet of ranch dip mix
2 cups of finely shredded Mozzerela cheese

Roll your pizza dough out onto a greased cookie sheet, use your fingers to press it to the edges, and poke a bunch of holes in it with a fork. 

Read the instructions on the package and bake for the shortest amount of time recommended.

My dough said 9-12 minutes so I checked it after 8 and it was perfect. Just keep your eye on it...take it out when the edges are just starting to turn golden-brown, like this:

Let the baked crust cool for a few minutes, and when the pan has cooled enough for you to touch it, move it to the fridge to finish chilling out.

Now it's time to mix the cream cheese, sour cream and ranch dip mix. 

I never ever remember to set my cream cheese out to soften, so after making this a million times and getting ticked off at myself, I came up with a solution. Just use the mixer!


As a bonus, with this method you and your tiny human get to lick the beaters. :)

Kinley liked it so much, she decided to give her little chicken a taste, too.

Okay, "sauce" is done.

If you are making this ahead of time for a potluck or dinner, wait to do these next steps until you are ready to eat it. Cool Veggie Pizza doesn't keep very well, it gets pretty soggy. When I used to make it for work potlucks, I would do everything up to this point the night before and then assemble it right before I left my house in the morning.

Go grab your chilled pizza crust and slather on your ranch cream cheese mixture.

Here's a handy tip: it's really hard to slice Cool Veggie Pizza after you put all the toppings on, so it's a good idea to just do it at this point after the cream cheese mixture is evenly spread.

Now, pile on the veggies...

Just squish the veggies down into the cream cheese by firmly pushing them down with the palm of your hand. That just makes eating the pizza a little easier and a lot less messy.

Now, you can stop there, but Dave had the idea of adding cheese to the top, and since we gave that a go, we haven't gone without.

If you do want to use cheese, now's the time to sprinkle it on.

Yummmmmmmmmm. :)

I made this for our weekly Wednesday dinner with my parents last week and this is all that remained:

Apparently I am not the only one who loves a cold pizza around here! Haha.

This stuff is definitely not healthy, but, man-oh-man, is it yummy. And, hey, it might even get your kiddo to eat some veggies! It didn't work on Kinley--she had mac and cheese as usual--but ranch on anything is usually a kid-pleaser, right?

The original recipe called for Italian dressing mix and it's super yummy in this, too. Just another option.

Talking about Sophia Petrillo at the beginning of this post got me thinking about cheesecake, so I'm off to whip one up. 


It'll have to wait a couple of hours though because guess who forgot to set out the cream cheese...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Time to bite the bullet...

Yesterday was kind of awful.

We got up at noon, ate lunch, and went to Sam's Club. All of that was smooth sailing and, bonus, Kinley fell asleep in the car on the way home.

I smoothly transferred her from her car seat to her crib and she didn't even open her eyes a teensy crack! I patted myself on the back on my way downstairs, made plans in my head to finally get the mop out, and headed back out to the garage to unload the ginormous bag of tortilla chips, jug of salsa, and 5 lb flat of strawberries. No sooner had I put one foot back in the house, she woke up. Screaming. 


It was pretty much like all the days we've been having lately. SuperBaby has come to the conclusion that naps are lame and unnecessary, so she will no longer be participating.

Unfortunately, after 4 or 5 major meltdowns yesterday, it seems she clearly still needs a nap. 

She cried when I used the word "scoot" while we were playing. I'm assuming that was because that is also the word I use to tell her to back away from the oven when I am removing hot things from it, and just like her momma, Kinley does not like to be bossed.

She cried while I mopped because, although she could see me, I was more than 5 feet from her.

She cried because I turned on the shower, peeled a banana without her, drew a puppy with sidewalk chalk, helped her open a flap in her Spot book, and ate the Teddy Graham she shoved in my mouth. No explanation for any of these.

Needless to say, it was a long and patience-trying day. And the two before it were exactly the same. Something had to give.

Duh. She needs a schedule!

I know how important schedules are to littles, so why it didn't occur to me until breaking point to make one for Princess SuperBaby is beyond me. Now that it has occurred to me though, I am not wasting another precious day!

First of all, getting up at noon (or 1:00) is over. Sorry, Kin. You can do that again on  weekends in 15 years. I think 10:00 sounds perfect.

And I know we need books/songs/flashcards time, sensory/art time, and tons of play/outside time. Plus, we definitely need NAP TIME. Period.

Here's our first tentative schedule:

10:00   Wake-up/brush teeth/clothes on
10:30   Breakfast
11:15   Books/songs/flashcards
12:00   Playtime 
1:30     Lunch/TV time
2:30     Playtime
4:00     Nap
5:00     Sensory/art or playtime
6:15     Walk with Daddy
7:00     Dinner
8:00     Bath
8:45     Hang out with Mom and Dad
10:00   Bedtime

This is my wishful thinking schedule, so I'm already guessing a lot will change, but we needed a jumping-off point.

I'm also assuming the first couple of weeks are going to continue to be fussy and awful, but hopefully Kinley will catch on quickly and we will both be so much happier.

Fingers crossed!

Just in case this plan fails and the screaming continues, I'm gonna head back to Sam's Club today and pick up an economy sized jug of wine and bottle of Tylenol. This time I'll know not to get my hopes up if she falls asleep in the car. :)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Fluffy White Cloud Dough

After so many gorgeous days outside, I completely forgot what I used to do to keep my girl busy when we were stuck inside. 

When I realized yesterday that it was too chilly to go out for very long, I started racking my brain for something fun to keep Kinley busy for a bit. She didn't feel like coloring or painting or playing Legos. She didn't wanna play Little People or ball pit or read a story. And then it came to me: our old favorite sensory substance, CLOUD DOUGH!

If you are a Pinterest addict like this SuperMom, you have probably already heard about Cloud Dough. But just in case you aren't or haven't, I'll share.

The good news is it's really cool, really easy, and you probably have the stuff to make it already in your cabinets. So what could possibly be bad, you ask? 

Cloud Dough is always a HUGE MESS. I don't mean huge as in 10-minute-clean-up-and-wash-tiny-hands-in-the-sink type of huge. I'm talking the kind of mess that requires a wardrobe change for everyone who even walked in the room where Cloud Dough was being played with, bath time, and multiple trips around the room with a broom and Swiffer and still finding some smushed in the grout. 

I know you are thinking cows will speak German before you will ever let your tiny human play with this stuff after that warning, but you should really try it once. That warning was not meant to scare you, just to prepare you! Kinley absolutely loves Cloud Dough and when you only make it once every six months you tend to forget what a giant pain it is. Besides, maybe your tiny human will just neatly keep it all in the bowl and cooperatively wipe his/her hands on the damp towel you provide. HA.

The only ingredients required for this stuff are:

2 cups of flour
1/4 cup oil (I used vegetable oil because Kinley usually likes to taste test sensory stuff. Most of the recipes I've seen use baby oil which would probably smell pretty nice, but obviously isn't's up to you!)

That's it! Flour and oil! I actually halved the original recipe I found for this stuff. It would be really fun to make a huge batch if you were going outside I think. I do not even want to think about the flour nightmare SuperBaby would've made with double the Cloud Dough.

I plopped a big tablecloth on the kitchen floor for us to play on in hopes of containing the mess (not extremely successful), set the bowl on that and let Kinley help me mix the flour and oil together. We just used our hands.

The cool thing about Cloud Dough is that it just feels light and fluffy like flour (or a cloud) until you squeeze it or pack it into something and then it sticks together kind of like wet sand. But when you break up the clump, it turns right back into its fluffy cloud state.

We had fun packing the Cloud Dough into Kinley's sensory scoops and digging for the plastic fruits I hid in it for her. And of course, flinging it in the air and dumping it by the scoopful on the exact edge of the tablecloth.

But, mostly, she just had a ton of fun squeezing it in her little fists and stirring the Cloud Dough around with her tiny fingers. The mess she made may have been legendary, but all those squeals and smiles made the epic clean-up completely and totally worth it.

Hopefully the sun will come out tomorrow and we can get back to our regularly scheduled, and much less messy, activities. 

Happy playing! (And cleaning.) :)

Friday, May 9, 2014

Operation: Mother's Day Present

I have such a bad habit of dreaming up huge homemade present ideas and then waiting until the exact last possible minute to get started on them. This Mother's Day is, unfortunately, no exception. I keep seeing all these cute painted Mason jar vases on Pinterest and decided that was the perfect present for both of Kinley's Grammas. They both love flowers and have gardens and what better way to show off your homegrown beauties than a rustic vase painted by your way-too-cute grandbaby? 

Well, bad news.

I waited until today, of course, to go on the hunt for Mason jars and, surprise, no stores that I had time to search had them. 

So, Plan B, I decided Kinley would just paint terra cotta pots for the Grammas to show off their homegrown flowers in progress.

Bad news again. No terra cotta anywhere. Just lots and lots of plastic. You would think at some point I would learn my lesson and start presents that require many steps and gathering supplies more than two days before I want to hand them, in all their wrapped glory, to their recipient.

Anyway, I had to come up with a Plan C on the fly. Kinley and I headed to the glass containers aisle at Meijer to see if there was ANYTHING that could work. While SuperBaby sat in the plastic pool she insisted I carry with us and played with a little Nerf ball that we weren't buying, a ray of light shone on my head and angels started singing: A CANDY JAR! That's it!

I grabbed two of those babies, distracted Kinley from her pool/Nerf ball dreams by saying the words "candy aisle", grabbed a couple of bags of sweets, and zipped through the U-Scan lane.

When we got home, I gathered up everything we needed from our craft bins.
Here's the list:

2 candy jars
Craft paint (the Martha Stewert kind is a little more expensive, but totally worth it. Best. Paint. Ever.)
Wet paper towels (for messy hands and mistakes)

First things first: wash those jars. I definitely didn't want to go to all the trouble of making them gorgeous and then notice a grody film under all the artwork. Plus, this is their last chance to get a really good scrub since the paint probably won't hold up too well under a sponge.

Okay, once they are clean and super dry, it's time to get the most important part on them--the cute little handprint, of course.

I painted Kin's hand so I could make sure every inch of her hand was evenly covered. She was so super patient with this part, even though I interrupted her Mango Peach play dough session. 

Now, there's no need to worry about getting a perfect handprint on the first try. When the craft paint is wet, it just wipes right off the glass with a wet paper towel.

Our first try was pretty smudgy, so I just flipped it over, tried again, and wiped off the first print when I was satisfied with the second.

See, you can't even tell...

I didn't fill in SuperBaby's handprint (I like imperfect kiddo art,) but I did just tap my paintbrush over her handprint so it wasn't so transparent. See what I mean?

After the handprints were dry, I just started adding more decorations--"love you", dots (made with the wrong end of the paintbrush,) and hearts.

And when that was all dry, I just dumped the candy in! Easy peasy.

Here are a couple of finished product pics for ya.

If you make one of these things, just make sure to tell whoever you give it to that it's not really washable. If I had had more time for product testing, I would've tried giving them a wipe, but I couldn't afford for one to get ruined today. I know they make a permanent glass paint, but I don't know how great that would be to put all over baby hands.

It just occurred to me why I procrastinate every single time. It always works out okay. I wait til the last minute, rush around like a crazypants, stay up until 3 am if I have to, and knock it out. If I just completely failed one time maybe I would learn my lesson. 


I mentioned last year's last minute Grammy present in the dragonfly feet post, and my mom sent me a picture of the butterfly footprint canvas Kinley made for her last year so I could share that with you, too. 

I just put little Baby Kinley in her bouncy seat, painted her teeny-tiny tootsies with a bright orange-y/yellow craft paint and swirled in some bright pink craft paint to make them look extra beautiful, stamped them (left foot on the right side and vice versa,) added some butterfly bodies and words and flight dots, and voila!

It's a perfect DIY for little feet...nobody cares if tiny toe wings are a little smudgy.

My mom has this butterfly art hanging in her office, and I'm hoping, the new candy jar gets the same treatment. :)

I've gotta dream up a card for Kin to make for my mom tomorrow afternoon...looks like I'll be perusing Pinterest after I post this. If you are a last minute lady like me, this candy jar present is a perfect option. It only took about an hour including drying time, and what momma doesn't love candy?! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mmmm, tastes like summer...

This gloomy, yucky day called for a super yummy, sunshine-y treat, and when I think sunshine and sugar I think of my Nana's lemonade cake. Oh my gosh, it's so delicious and so simple--perfect!

When I was growing up, my whole family would get together at Nanny and Grampy's for Sunday dinner. It wasn't a formal thing, just a casual, fun, wear your sweatpants, laugh and eat and start-the-week-out-right kind of a meal. I have so many fantastic memories from those days--entertaining my cousins, trying to impress my beyond cool aunts, hugs, a million games of Seven-Up, teasing, birthday dinners...I could go on, but I'll spare you. ;)

My favorites of all the memories, though, are the ones I have of hanging out with my Nan. She is pretty much the most awesome, loving, hilarious woman on Earth. I always loved to "help" her with the cooking, but even if she didn't have a job for me to do, I would sit and talk to her while she worked. 

She has always made me feel like she is listening to every word I am saying and that everything I have to say is important. That's a pretty great feeling as an adult, but an even better one when you are a kiddo. 

I was thinking about all of this as I was preparing her old go-to summer Sunday dinner dessert today, and thought it would be fun to get Kinley in on the cooking action just like Nanny did with me. 

Lemonade Poke Cake

1 box of cake mix (I just used a plain white cake today, but you could use lemon instead for a super lemon-y cake)
1 can of frozen lemonade concentrate, melted (I used pink lemonade today)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
Cool-Whip (optional)

Follow the directions on the cake mix box.

Kinley helped with the pouring and the mixing today and she did a super job!

After your cake is baked and cooled, poke holes in it all over the place with a toothpick or skewer.

This is the part where all of the helping went a little haywire. I cut the sharp tips off of a couple of skewers and let SuperBaby go to town with the poking. She did great at first and then she decided that scraping the skewer through the cake was a better method.

Pretty much mutilated. Good thing the only guests we had for dinner tonight were my parents. :)

Whisk together the lemonade concentrate and powdered sugar. Pour it all over your cake and put the whole thing in the fridge until you are ready to eat it. If you aren't gonna be eating it for more than an hour or so, just wait until you are almost ready to eat to pour the lemonade mixture on top, otherwise it'll be REALLY soggy.

Lemonade Cake is pretty tart, so we like to eat it with a plop of Cool-Whip to cut the sour a little bit. Also, if your cake gets destroyed by your baby helper like mine did, you could just spread the Cool Whip on top and no one would even notice. :)

So easy, right? It's perfect for BBQ food or summer birthday cake or gray days like this one. We all enjoyed every last bite--Kinley's Daddy and Grampy even had two pieces each! 

Even though our Lemonade Cake was mostly crumbs soaked in syrup, it tasted yummy, made us happy, and made us think of our amazing Nana far away in Illinois and how much we love and miss her. Total success :)