Mint Lemonade Recipe

I’m going to start off topic. I hate throwing yard sales. I do. I hate taking a bunch of stuff that I don’t want and trying to convince strangers that they should want it. The whole thing feels just slightly dishonest. And yet, I’m having a two day yard sale this weekend.

As much as I don’t enjoy yard sales, I do love getting my daughter involved with the whole process. When I told her we were having one, she immediately exclaimed that she wanted to sell lemonade and cookies. Awesome! Not only could she help me make the lemonade and cookies, she could be in charge of selling them, and, (bonus!) be otherwise occupied and therefor not pitch a fit when I sell her old stuff! Win, win, win!

I’ve been in love with mint lemonade since I tried it a few years back. The hint of mint somehow makes it about a zillion times more refreshing than regular lemonade. Here’s how we make it:

Ingredients

  • 6-8 good-sized mint leaves (more or less depending on how minty you like it)
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemon’s worth)
  • 1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 cups water

Instructions

  1. Start by mixing the sugar and the lemon juice in a pitcher.
  2. Julienne (cut into tiny strips) the mint. Smash it, squish it, the more you abuse your mint, the better. IMG_1384
  3. Stir in the mint and water.

And that’s it! Simple right? A few things;

  1. I swear my lemonade tastes better after I leave it in the fridge over night.
  2. A lot of lemonade recipes say to create a simple syrup with your sugar and a half cup of your water. I’m sure it tastes even better this way, the reason I don’t do this is to keep it kid friendly.
  3. The cookies my daughter insisted we make are the Triple Chocolate Cookies from The Pioneer Woman.  And they are sooooooooooo good! We follow the recipe exactly, except we add white chocolate chips to make them Quadruple Chocolate. They are so chocolatey and chewy, I highly recommend them.

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    Mmmmmm. Fresh mint. I feel mojitos in my future.

Well that’s everything. Let me know what you think of this recipe and if it works for you. And wish me luck at the yard sale!

 

 

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My Best Night At Disney World Wasn’t In The Parks

Out on the water. The sun was setting, turning the clouds into a watercolor painting. All you could hear were the birds, the water slapping the side of the boat. The Magic Kingdom, with its thousands of visitors, fast rides and colorful parades felt miles away. And yet, there was Cinderella Castle, right in front of us.

Last year my family celebrated my mom’s sixty-fifth birthday with a trip to Disney World. We usually visit Disney World every two years, but I wanted to make this trip extra special. So I set out to combine our favorite things to do at Disney World (favorite restaurants, fast passes for can’t miss rides, etc.) with brand new experiences.

In particular, I wanted to surprise my mom with one big experience as our present to her. So on the third night of our vacation, around dinner time, we left Magic Kingdom and headed over to The Polynesian Resort. This was our first time visiting the Polynesian, and oh my gosh, I want to stay there! The place is gorgeous! And I’m dying to spend a day at their pool! After getting a little twisted around, we found what we were looking for, Trade Sam’s Grog Grotto.

Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto is a tiki bar, but it’s soooo much more than that too. The whole bar, which is very small, leading to a wonderfully cozy feeling, is filled to the brim with treasures. You never know when a volcano might erupt, a tropical storm might arise, or a  giant squid might lend the bartenders a helping tentacle. I ordered an Uh-Oa, and well, just watch what happens. (Not my video) Seriously, Trader Sam’s is like being a part of a Disney ride, with booze. And those drinks? Delicious and strong! I love keeping the glasses as souvenirs too. 20140049_10210124440603810_2810944059850183707_n

After our drinks and a bite to eat, we headed to the pier. We waited by the little kiosk that listed prices for water equipment and activities. There was another family there too, they were also surprising someone for their birthday ;). The pier was full of small boats that would fit about 8-10 people. Some of the boats had banners that read “Happy Birthday!” and balloons. My mom looked confused.

Our skipper came to meet us, introductions were made, life vests were put on the kids, and we were led to one of the boats with a birthday banner. We said goodbye to the other family, who was getting on their own boat with a banner, and we told my mom what was going on. For her birthday we had gotten a private boat to take us around Seven Seas Lagoon. At the end, we would find a spot on the water to watch the fireworks at Magic Kingdom.

My mom’s face lit up like a little kid’s. This was definitely not what she had expected. We got situated, and we were off. Our skipper (who was awesome, but whose name I can’t remember) told us to help ourselves to the provided snacks and drinks. There was a nice selection of bagged chips and cookies, and some Mickey shaped crisped rice treats (yay!). The drinks were sodas and water bottles. When I made the reservation I had mentioned that my mom was sensitive to gluten and soy, so I was happy to see two boxes of allergy friendly cookies and brownies for her.

Our skipper (let’s call him Tom) usually didn’t do the fireworks cruises, he usually stuck to fishing excursions. This meant that he was incredibly knowledgeable about the animal and plant life around and in the lake. Since we were a boat full of nature lovers, this was perfect. For about an hour, we made our way around the lake. Learning about which birds were native, and which were introduced. 20106840_10210124443843891_2121300574328517864_n

Tom told us about the different hotels we passed, and the unique architecture of The Contemporary Resort. He showed us the remaining remnants Discovery Island and River Country (Disney’s first waterpark) and the island where Walt Disney had planned to build his house. For a Disney nerd like myself it was heaven. For the non Disney nerds on the boat, it was a relaxing boat ride with family and a nice change of pace from the go go go of the first three days of vacation.

We watched the sunset and Tom found a good spot to watch the fireworks. I was a little nervous about the view when I made the reservation. The fireworks show had just been updated to include more projections on the castle, and I was worried we would be missing out on this part of the show watching from the water. There was no need to be worried. I was surprised at how well we could see the castle. The boat was equipped with speakers so we were able to hear the music that went with the show as well.

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Sunset. You can see the turrets of the castle on the right.

The fireworks was an amazing show. For twenty minutes we oohed and ahhed, my son slept through the whole thing. We clapped at the end, but Tom wasn’t done yet. He moved our boat closer to the Grand Floridian and stopped. There we got to watch the Electrical Water Pageant. Imagine parade floats mixed with Christmas light displays. Or, take a look at Disney’s website for a better description. When that was over, Tom made his way back to the Polynesian. Our private fireworks cruise had come to an end.

This really was one of the best nights I’ve ever had, at a Disney Park or otherwise. It might be cliche, but it was magical. There’s really no better word to describe it. There are so many different experiences at Disney World, it can be hard to pick and choose. I’m so glad we chose this one, and I would absolutely do it again for a special celebration. Here are a few reasons why it was such a good choice for me and my family.

Cost: A Lot of Bang for your Buck

I know, I know. A private cruise? At Disney? It must’ve cost an arm and a leg, right? It was actually one of the most cost effective experiences I looked at. When planning our trip I looked at behind the scenes tours, scuba diving, safaris, like I said, there’s a lot you can do at Disney World besides rides. Renting a private boat was one of the cheapest routes for one simple reason: it didn’t charge per person. I was traveling with a large party of four adults and two kids. At the time, it cost us about $350 for the fireworks cruise. Most tours, parties, even cruises, usually cost about $60-$80 a person.

Privacy and Quiet Time

I’ll never forget the time my brother took my mom to a Teppen restaurant. She was aghast at having to sit next to a stranger. At the same table! It’s not that she’s unfriendly, she just doesn’t enjoy forced mingling. At least, that’s what she says. 😉 Needless to say, when I was looking for something special to do, I knew she would appreciate something that was just family.

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Shoe Tree

Fun For All

I was traveling with, how should I put this, an eclectic group. Everyone was very different and had different interests. The fireworks cruise had something for everyone. There was the relaxing boat ride for my mom and brother, great photo ops for my husband (all the photos in this blog were taken by him, check out more of his photography here), Disney facts for me, the Disney nerd, and fireworks and snacks for the kids.

We All Like Boats

Yeah, don’t book a fireworks cruise if you don’t like boats. 😉 But if you do like boats, and you want more information, here’s the link to Disney’s page on specialty cruises.

Easy, 5 Ingredient, Slow Cooker Lasagna

Confession: I’ve always been intimidated by making lasagna. I don’t know, something about having to cook big old lasagna noodles, and then handle said cooked noodles made me nervous. So, despite thoroughly enjoying lasagna, I had never made one. That is, until I realized I could make it in my slow cooker! Huzzah!

After looking at some other recipes, and some good old-fashioned experimenting, I came up with this super easy, five ingredient lasagna that tastes even better than it looks.

Ingredients

  • 1 16 oz package of uncooked lasagna noodle (not the oven ready ones)
  • 1 big thing (45 oz) of your favorite marinara (I like one with Italian sausage in it)
  • 1 15 oz container of ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups mozzarella cheese (separated)
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

The secret to cooking a slow cooker lasagna is all in the sauce. Which I learned the hard way when my first lasagna came out with inedible crispy noodles. You’re using the sauce to cook your noodles and make them tender, so make sure all your noodles get a good covering of sauce. 🙂

  1. Mix together your ricotta, parmesan, and 3 cups of your mozzarella cheese together.
  2. Pour some sauce into the bottom of your slow cooker, covering the bottom. IMG_1069
  3. Layer your noodles on top of the sauce. Feel free to break them to make them fit.

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    My eight year old sous chef helping me out.
  4. Use about a third of your cheese mixture to cover your noodles.

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    Your cheese mixture will cover your noodles better than this. I’m not sure why I only snapped a picture halfway through this layer.
  5. Repeat, sauce, noodles, cheese mixture. You should have about three solid layers.
  6. After your last layer of cheese mixture, we’re going to mix it up a bit. Cover your cheese mixture with the last of your noodles.
  7. Cover the last of your noodles with the last of your sauce, making sure that your noodles are covered (so you don’t end up with crispy noodles like I did).
  8. Now cover that with the last cup of mozzarella. IMG_1080
  9. Cook on low for about 4-5 hours, depending on your slow cooker. I cook mine for four hours and it comes out a little crispy on the bottom and edges, which is perfect for my family. IMG_1084

I hope you love this recipe as much as I do. Let me know in the comments how it works for you!

How I Became A Breastfeeding Pro at Disney World

Public breastfeeding in theory and public breastfeeding in practice are two totally different things. While I am all about the normalize breastfeeding movement, and supporting my public breastfeeding sisters, when it actually came time to take my boob out in public, I kinda froze. So when it was time to go to Disney World with my breastfeeding, eight month old son, I was really nervous. Surprisingly, by the end of our trip I had totally conquered my fears and felt like a public breastfeeding champion! Disney World really is a magical place! 😉 Here are some tips from a mom who’s been through it.

  1. Plan Ahead

OK, I know, duh right? Pretty simple tip. But duuuuuuuuuude, it’s so important!!! Disney World is roughly the size of San Francisco and is so much more than just theme parks! If you don’t really think about it before hand you will probably miss out on some really cool things or end up feeling totally overwhelmed when you get there. Speaking from personal experience. And then you throw traveling with a baby in the mix and look out!

I started planning for breastfeeding at Disney World before my son was born. Ok, that is probably a little extreme, and I am probably a bit neurotic, but it helped me feel less anxious about the whole thing.

I started by researching online and reading all the tips and tricks I could find. Personal accounts from other moms were invaluable. Disney also has sites upon sites for planning your trip, and whole sections on traveling with little ones.

Think about what to pack as a breastfeeding mom. Do you have a carrier that you use to breastfeed? What kind of tops and nursing bras will you be most comfortable in? Do you like to use a coverup? Keep in mind that Florida can be hot and humid, and you will probably be on your feet a lot.

  1. Baby Centers

Each of the four theme parks has a Baby Center. Disney describes them as, “a convenient place to feed, change and nurse little ones” but believe me, they are soooo much more than that! They really have just about everything a parent of a little one in a crowded theme park could want. Want a quiet room to nurse or pump? They have it. Need to heat up formula? Yup. Need diaper rash cream because all that theme park food has made it so your toddler can’t stop pooping? This is the place to go. Want a soft Mickey plush that your son can grab off the shelf and immediately stick in his mouth so you feel obligated to purchase it? They have shelves full of them. While each center is different, they all provide a nice, quiet reprieve from the parks, which is nice, even if you aren’t a nursing mom. As a nursing mom, if you are a little less comfortable nursing in public, or if your little one is easily distracted during feedings, these centers are invaluable. I looooooooovvvveeee the Baby Centers!

  1. Quiet Rides and Shows

Yes! You can nurse on rides! I mean what nursing mom doesn’t want to nurse their little one while riding The Mad Teacups, am I right? No, don’t do that. Please. But for every Mad Teacups, there is a quiet ride or show that is suitable for nursing. Spaceship Earth at Epcot is fifteen minutes long, air conditioned and slow moving.

My personal favorite is the Country Bear Jamboree. It’s almost sixteen minutes long, usually pretty empty, and I’m a total sucker for those country singin’ animatronic bears. 100_0133

  1. Go With The Flow

I was really nervous about breastfeeding at Disney World. I was picturing prudish vacationers pelting me with stale churros, I was dreading being chained down to Baby Centers and quiet rides and missing out on fun. And then I got there. On my first day in Magic Kingdom I saw a mom squatting outside It’s A Small World. She was talking to her husband and older children, her right hand was rifling in a duffle bag, and her left arm was cradling her nursing baby. No one was throwing churros at her! My fears were lifted! Honestly, with breastfeeding on my mind, I started to see breastfeeding mothers everywhere I looked. Moms nursing babies, on the go, and no one cared. I was really, pleasantly surprised with just how breastfeeding friendly the parks were.

It gave me the confidence to be a little braver with my own public nursing. I also started to realize just how many quiet nooks and crannies there are throughout all the parks. No matter where I was, I was always able to find a quiet, semi secluded place, good for nervous moms and easily distracted babies alike.

My favorite places to nurse (besides those glorious Baby Centers) were next to the exit of the big thrill rides, ie Space Mountain. Most of them exit into long corridors that usually lead to gift shops. Those long corridors usually have benches and quiet little areas for people waiting for people on the ride. The one for Space Mountain was my personal favorite. Not only was it surprisingly quiet, they had comfy benches and tons of outlets. I could nurse AND charge my phone! It truly is a magical place! 100_0036

So that is the story of how Disney World helped me conquer my fear of public nursing. And honestly, no matter what kind of nursing mom you are, feel confident that there are options that will work for you.

Grapefruit Cake Recipe

I make this cake every year for my husband’s birthday. He’s not a sweet eater (awesome, more for me), but he loves this cake as much as I do, and what is a birthday without a birthday cake?

This is a recreation of the Grapefruit Cake that was served at the Hollywood Brown Derby during the Golden Age of Hollywood. Legend has it, a powerful gossip columnist complained to the restaurant’s owner, Robert Cobb, that all of the desserts on the menu were too fattening. So he told his chef to put grapefruit on something, since grapefruit is known to be slimming.

Now, is the cake delicious? Yes. Light and refreshing? Yes. Healthy? Welllllllll, with the layers of decadent cream cheese frosting it’s definitely not the most healthy cake out there.

While the original Brown Derby restaurant no longer exists, there is a replica restaurant in Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Disney World. They serve this cake along with other legendary dishes from the original restaurant including the Cobb Salad. I try to stop by every time I’m there. Not only is it like stepping back into time, but it is a very nice break from the heat and crowds. But, if a trip to Disney World isn’t in your immediate future, you can still make this cake at home and pretend. 😉

Ingredients

For the Cake

1 1/2 cups cake flour

3/4 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup water

3 tablespoons grapefruit juice

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

16 oz cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1 cup powdered sugar

Grapefruit, well drained

Dehydrated grapefruit wedges (optional)

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  1. First things first. If you decide to decorate your cake with dehydrated grapefruit wedges, you are going to want to dehydrate your wedges the day before you bake your cake. This is an easy (albeit time consuming) way to give your cake that extra bit of pizzazz. Preheat your oven to 170°F. Cut your grapefruit into thin (about 1/4 inch) slices, then cut those slices in half. Spread your grapefruit on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven. It should take about 9 hours to fully dehydrate. I flipped my slices every 3 hours to help them dehydrate evenly.
  2. Time for the cake. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottom with wax paper, and then lightly grease the paper. (Note: The cake will fit into one 9-inch cake pan, I prefer using two so that I don’t have to cut the cake in half. I always make a mess of it when I try. If you are more coordinated than myself, feel free to stick to one pan.)
  3. In a large bowl, sift together your flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, mix together your egg yolks, oil, water, grapefruit juice, and lemon zest until smooth. Mix in your flour mixture. IMG_0963
  5. Grab another medium bowl. Using an electric beater, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until stiff peaks start to form. IMG_0967
  6. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold the egg whites into the yolk mixture until just blended. When I was first making this recipe, this is where I always got tripped up. I either over mixed it or under mixed it. You separate the eggs and beat the whites to get lots and lots of air into your cake batter, which will make your cake light and fluffy. So when mixing the egg whites with the rest of your batter, you want to do your best to keep all that air in there. Folding it in helps keep all that air from escaping. Never stir it in! IMG_0972
  7. Bake the cake for 12-15 minutes (25-30 if you used one pan). Insert a toothpick into the middle of your cake. Your cake is done when the toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let the cake cool completely on a wire rack.
  9. Make that frosting! In a medium bowl, use an electric beater to beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy.
  10. Add in your lemon zest and lemon juice. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar.

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    Always good to have a helper if you don’t have three hands 😉
  11. Cover your bottom layer of cake with frosting. Top it with well drained grapefruit sections. IMG_1009
  12. Cover with the second layer of cake and frost the top and sides. IMG_1041
  13. Decorate and enjoy! IMG_1055

I hope you enjoy this cake as much as I do. Let me know in the comments how it turned out for you!

About Me

A while ago my friend Hannah introduced me to her sister, “This is Kim. She has cute babies, she bakes tasty things, she’s pretty crafty. She’s just a bad ass mother f**ker.” This is how I want everyone to introduce me from now on. I want it engraved on my tombstone. With the possible exception of my husband’s wedding vows, it is probably the nicest thing anyone has said about me. But is it true?

Cute Babies?

Well admittedly I do have cute babies. This is not bias. Just ask my friend Hannah.

How About Baking? Being Crafty?

I can bake and cook things without poisoning people, so that’s pretty cool. I craft things because it’s cheaper than buying them but there is no mistaking them for anything other than homemade.

Really A Badass?

But am I truly a bad ass mother f**ker? Well, I try to be. It’s not easy though is it? I mean, being a mom is hard. First, you have to keep your kids alive, which isn’t easy because kids do incredibly stupid things. Then, you have to try to raise them to be decent human beings. Also not easy. The other night I had to explain to my eight year old daughter why she can’t spit on her bedroom floor. Because she had spit on her bedroom floor. Then you have to worry about bullying, “helicoptering”, “new math”, and what the hell is a Hatchimal?

Why This Blog?

Because nothing, especially being a mom, is as easy as people make it look. You go online to research how to throw a Frozen themed birthday party, or how to make a healthy, quick, week night dinner that’s kid friendly, or how to make your own bouncy castle out of things around your house, and you are bombarded with pages and images that make it all look so easy.

So, I started this blog. For moms like me, who are far from perfect but know it’s the trying that matters. On here you’ll find recipes that are easy to follow, crafts that are cheap and easy to make, and (hopefully) amusing anecdotes about being a modern mom. Also, I’m pretty obsessed with Disney so expect that to come up a lot too. 🙂