Meet the Sullivans: September 2013

September 30, 2013

Menu Monday | Clean Eating Style

Vacation a few weeks back really threw my whole clean eating and going to the gym plan for a loop, and I also blame the Jewish holidays that made my gym close the week before we left. Anyway, I'm getting back on track this week (after I brought a dozen donuts to playgroup last week and then we went out for a date night to Mexican food and had candy at the movies too. Moo moo. I'm feeling like I really need it.), and this is my clean eating plan for dinners this week.


1. Healthy Orange Chicken (Schue Love)
2. Skinny Chicken Pesto Bake (Skinny Taste)
3. Protein Style Turkey Burgers with Sweet Potato Fries (Self Magazine)
4. Clean Eating Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili (The Gracious Pantry)
5. Southwestern Stuffed Bell Peppers (Meals Full of Color)

Snack wise I'm going to keep it simple, since simple is all I have time and patience for. Some ideas: banana with almond butter, carrots or bell peppers with hummus, fruit + veggie green smoothie or raw unseasoned almonds.

I'm also kick starting my clean eating plan back into action with the Advocare 10-Day Cleanse. This herbal cleanse system can help rid your body of toxins and waste with its unique blend of herbal ingredients, and guides you day by day through the steps for thorough internal cleansing and improved digestion.

What I'm really excited about is that it keeps energy levels up, aiding in removing impurities and supporting the immune system, and of course that there is a great chance it will help me shed a few pounds! And this is really important to note: you can still eat food while on this cleanse, which you know is great news since my last cleanse was unsuccessful.

What are your favorite clean eating meals and snacks? 

September 28, 2013

MINTED Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations Emily Orloff! 
You won the $75 to spend on Minted Holiday cards!!!! 
Thank you to everyone who participated!

September 27, 2013

5 on Friday | Favorites from the Week

Good morning and Happy Friday!! I'm linking up this morning with Darci of [the good life], April of A. Liz Adventures, Christina of Carolina Charm, and Natasha of Hello! Happiness for 5 on Friday! I just love this link up and I can't believe it's been a month since I've participated.



I'm going to share some favorites from this week:

ONE - FAVORITE THING I READ: I've been a stay-at-home mom for nearly two years now and I still feel defensive about it. Like I have to explain why I'm not working or why it really is a very important job. You'd think that by now I wouldn't feel like I need to defend our decision for me to stay home, but unfortunately that's not the case. It always comes up. But I found some real solace this week when I read Erica's post about Stay-at-Home Mom Productivity. She says all the things I wish I would have said all the times it's been discussed. 
"But we are raising human beings. So someone tell me—tell all of us moms—does it get more productive than that?"



TWO - FAVORITE THING I HEARD: Besides the sound of Owen's laughter or Keith coming through the door at the end of the day, Jack Johnson's new album From Here to Now to You is my favorite thing to listen to right now. It's been playing non-stop in the car and I think it's his best one since... who are we kidding, I like them all! One thing though, who else thinks Radiate sounds a lot like Holes to Heaven?


THREE - FAVORITE THING I WORE: I bought these Julie Skinny Corduroy Pants in Cabernet a few weeks ago, and it is finally cool enough to wear them, so naturally I want to wear them every day. I usually change out of whatever pants I wear out immediately upon returning home. I just like to be comfortable when we're curling up to read books, crawling around with trains or when I'm putting away laundry. But these cords are so comfy that I don't even feel like I want to change out of them. If you know me, that says a lot about them. They're on sale right now online and in store, so I picked them up in Dusty Cinnamon too.



FOUR - FAVORITE THING I MADE: I made a slightly simplified version of this Grilled Seasame-Ginger Chicken Salad twice this week! Once for dinner for Keith and I, and once for lunch with my mom and sister. Keith even said it should become a regular in our weekly dinner rotation! The recipe below includes what I added (with an * next to it) and the things I left out of our salad are crossed out.


Grilled Seasame-Ginger Chicken Salad

Ingredients:
Marinade and Dressing
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 Tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1/4 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp sriracha sauce
1 tsp kosher salt
2 large chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped green onions (white and green parts)

Salad
1 lb Napa cabbage, very thinly sliced
2 carrots, grated

*1 bag of Trader Joe's Shredded Raw Cabbage
*1 container of Trader Joe's Healthy 8 Chopped Veggie Mix
3 green onions, thinly sliced and cut on the diagonal
2/3 cup freshly cut cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup slivered almonds, dry toasted
1 tsp white sesame seeds, toasted
1 tsp black sesame seeds, toasted


FIVE - A FEW OF MY FAVORITE MOMENTS THIS WEEK:

Finger painting a fall tree after nap time. Owen kept asking for "moeeeer" (more) paint. 


Watching airplanes come in for landing outside CuriOdyssey.


Reading books together at the book store.

Thanks so much for reading! Now we're off to play with our playgroup this morning! I'm bringing donuts and I hear there will be mimosas! Happy Friday!

September 26, 2013

Thirsty Thursday Guest Post | Pumpkin Spice Mudslide

Hi friends! I'm Megan, blogger over at Hello Newlywed Life...which is now a chaotic life filled with a soon to be one year old. I'm so excited to guest post for Colleen today as cocktails have become a staple in our house. Hope you enjoy this one :)



Pumpkin, spice and everything nice! Once September hit, PSL's have been all the craze. What's not to love about all that pumpkiny, creamy goodness? Let's kick it up a notch and add a little fun, aka booze! You ready to get tipsy? Just took me back to the college days, errrbody in da club gettin' tipsy!

Pumpkin Spice Mudslide (PSM)
Makes 1 serving
Ingredients
1 shot Baileys
1 shot whipped cream vodka
*Use more/less liquor, I used about a shot of each
1 Tbsp canned pumpkin
1/4 cup Milk
Pumpkin pie spice
Directions
1. In a shaker add the liquor, canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup milk (can use more or less) and a couple shakes of pumpkin pie spice
2. Shake, shake, shake
3. Pour into a glass filled with ice
Top with whipped cream and more pumpkin pie spice, if you're feeling fancy!

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A huge thanks to Megan for sharing this fun (and delish!) cocktail recipe with us! I can't wait to whip one up myself! Take a sec and hop on over to Megan's blog, Hello Newlywed Life -- I'm sure you'll be hooked just like me!

September 25, 2013

Our Favorite Game Day Chili & 4 Ingredient Mini Pumpkin Pies

I am not a football fan. It's not that I don't like the sport--I'm just not interested in it, as much as I have tried to be all my life. My dad was a huge 49er fan, had season tickets, and if he wasn't tailgating and going to the game, then he was home watching it. I of course, married someone very similar to my dad in that way who also loves the 49ers with a passion. So, on Sundays we watch football.

Usually I'll hang out at home while he watches the games and get things done around the house, and as often as we can, we have some of our great friends over to watch the game with us. What I look forward to most about Game Day is that I get to cook for people we love and enjoy some good company.

Last Sunday I made our favorite game day chili recipe that we used for chili dogs, chili nachos and just plain good ol' chili. It is quick to throw together in the morning, and cooks in just 4 hours in the slow cooker. The great thing about using the slow cooker for games is that everything stays warm if people want seconds!

 Fiesta Chili Recipe

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained & rinsed
1 can yellow corn, drained
1 can Rotel Mexican Festival tomatoes
1 can Diced Fire Roasted tomatoes
1 packet dry Ranch dressing
1 packet dry Taco seasoning
1 onion chopped
1 or 2 green peppers, chopped

Brown ground beef in a pan on the stove, and drain if needed. Add all ingredients to crock pot along with 1 can of water. Cover and cook on high for 4-5 hours, or low for 6-8 hours.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar, jalapenoes, and corn chips if desired, or on hot dogs for Chili Dogs or Nachos for Chili Cheese Nachos.

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I always have to have a dessert for my guests, even if it just includes a few ingredients. I thought that since Sunday marked the first day of Fall it would be acceptable to prepare some miniature pumpkin pies!

Four Ingredient Mini Pumpkin Pies

Makes two dozen. 

1 can pumpkin pie filling
1 5oz can evaporated milk
2 eggs
2 packages prepared pie crust (the kind in the rolls, not the shells)

Preheat your oven according to package directions. Lightly flour a cutting board and unroll one pie crust and start cutting out your mini pie crusts. I was able to get 4 out of each crust, and then re-rolled the crust to get two more out of it to total 6. 

Press each mini pie crust into the cups of a standard muffin tin. (Do not grease the muffin tin)

Mix together the eggs, pie filling and evaporated milk. Spoon about 1/4 cup filling into each prepared crust. Bake according to package directions or until a toothpick inserted into the center of one of the middle pies comes out clean.

Let cool on a cooling rack for 10 minutes or more before removing them from the muffin tin. They should come out easily, but you can use a butter knife to loosen them if they get a little stuck. Serve with whipped cream! 

What are your favorite game day or tailgate recipes?! Do share!!

September 24, 2013

Owen's First Trip to Disneyland (Part Two)

I'm back today to re-cap a little more about our Disneyland trip! If you missed Part One you can read it here.



Owen did great with all of the characters. We were a bit concerned with how he would do, like most parents, but we thought that maybe he would do well since he's always done great with Santa / The Easter Bunny, and he did. He really loved Pluto the most. He especially like the use his pointer finger to reach out and touch their nose, like some sort of greeting, almost like shaking hands or something.





Unfortunately Mickey Mouse's House in Toontown was closed while we were there, but he still got to meet Mickey. Minnie's House was open and Owen had a ball running around playing with all the cartoonish decor, furniture and appliances.


We watched the fireworks on our first night (which was the only night the show happened while we were there since they were closing at 7pm all the other nights to set up for their Halloween look) and the parade on another night. Both were worth staking out a good spot. Owen really got into the parade and LOVED waving to the characters and watching the dancers. TIP: Pay attention to where you sit in regards to the speakers. We mistakenly sat right in front of one and it was a bit loud.


Owen seriously enjoyed exploring Pirates Lair aka Tom Sawyer's Island! The caves with the spooky lights and sounds were too much for him, but the bridges + treasures + general outdoorsy feel was very much to his liking.


Not solely Disneyland related, but worth mentioning, Owen has learned to take off his shoes and he thinks it's so funny. One morning when we were rushing through California Adventure to get to some rides before the lines got too long Owen took off and threw his left shoe out of the stroller. Keith and I were obviously too busy to notice until we got to the ride, so Keith had to go back looking for it -- which took 20 minutes! Luckily he found it!


The little shows and performances were our friend. Often it means you get to sit down in an air conditioned room (like for Turtle Talk with Crush or the Disney Junior Live on Stage show or the Tiki Room) or at the least in the shade somewhere. Owen enjoyed watching the shows (especially the Disney Junior Show -- he was mind blown!) and we all enjoyed a little bit of down time!
The FOOD in Disneyland is not your normal themed park variety of hot dogs (although there are amazing corn dogs) and popcorn. We always look forward to trying what's new and different when we go.

Clockwise from top left: beignets from Jazz Kitchen in Downtown Disney, mai tais at Trader Sam's Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel, corn dog from the Little Red Wagon Corn Dog Cart on Main Street, caramel and chocolate covered Minnie Mouse marshmallow on a stick from Candy Palace on Main Street and chocolate covered smores from Candy Palace on Main Street.
 
We didn't spend a ton of time in California Adventure, but we did really enjoy Cars Land, especially the main event there Radiator Springs! This was the only ride I went on alone the whole time we were down there and it was totally worth it.

Here is a big TIP for all the people visiting Disneyland with little ones: One some of the more popular rides (or maybe all of them, but we just noticed it on the bigger ones) you can get what is called a Rider Switch Pass (This is for when you want to go on a ride but not everyone in your party meets the height requirement (i.e. babies and toddlers). We just asked for one as we were about to get in line for the ride (it's the picture on the left). So Keith stayed back with Owen and I went along in the regular line. Before I got on the actual ride they have me the pass on the right, which is what I gave Keith when I got done. He walked up through the Fast Pass line and get right on the ride.


We didn't ride all of our regular rides while we were there, but we made sure Owen got on most of the rides we knew he would enjoy. He got to ride: Dumbo the Flying Elephant, Peter Pan, It's a Small World, Roger Rabbit, the Monorail, Disneyland Railroad, Storybook Land Canal Boats, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Autotopia, Jungle Cruise, Red Car Trolley, The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure, Toy Story Midway Mania!, Monsters Inc., Mater's Junkyard Jamboree and Heimlich's Chew Chew Train.


On the morning we were leaving we brought Owen to Goofy's Kitchen for the character breakfast buffet. We thought it was a good idea to make this the last thing we did before leaving since by that point in the trip we would know if he was really frightened by the characters and obviously we wouldn't be going anymore. As you can see from the pictures, Owen really adored the characters. He was over the moon excited to see Pluto. He was totally smitten! The food was plentiful and you can get all sorts of things there. They have everything from eggs Benedict, to pizza and cupcakes available. My favorite thing had to be the Lemon Coconut Cream Cupcakes -- yes, you read that correctly I had a cupcake with my breakfast!

We had so much fun in Disneyland and Owen's age really wasn't an issue-- it just made our trip different from the ones we've taken before. We have already been talking about planning another trip for next Summer!



September 23, 2013

Scarf Swap 2013!

I participated in the Scarf Swap (hosted by Meredith of The Tichenor Family blog) again this year, and it was so much fun, so of course I'm here today to share all the details with you!

I was so lucky to get paired up with Lili of Swanky, Chic, Fete this time! Lili is a mama too, and not only is her son adorable, but she is so sweet and her blog is filled with fabulous parties and great style!


Along with the perfect for Fall leopard print scarf Lili also sent me two pretty candles and the Jonathan Adler highlighters I've been eying for, like, forever! I've already had a ball using them to further color coordinate my Life Planner.


I just love the scarf! I don't own anything like it and have been really wanting to add something new and different to my collection. You can bet on seeing me where it all the time this season, as I think it will be perfect with so many things!

Thanks so much Lili for the fun box of goodies and the gorgeous scarf and a big thanks to Meredith for hosting the link up again! I really think the best part of the scarf swap is finding a new Blog World friend, and of course getting a pretty new scarf too!

Happy Monday!

PS. If you haven't entered my Minted Giveaway make sure you do ASAP, because it ends tomorrow! I don't want you to miss out on the chance to win $75 toward your Holiday cards!

September 19, 2013

KTMA | Go-To Gear

Today is the final day of our Kid Tested, Mom Approved Link Up and the sweet and lovely Vanessa of Sunflower State of Mind is hosting today's topic all about your favorite Go-To Gear!
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In case you don't already know, we just got home from our first family trip to Disneyland. We had such a fun time there and our ride was mostly smooth (they way back was less than fun toward the end, since O got carsick) and our time in the park was really fun. 
 
While the long car ride (about 5+ hours from where we live) had potential to be disastrous, we were really pleased with how it all went and I'd like to think that some of the great toddler "gear" we brought along helped us out.  And although Disneyland is a magical and fun place, you need to really prepare yourself for the weather, crowds and long lines when totting a toddler through the park...
 
So I thought today would be a great opportunity to share some of the awesome items we brought along during our travels!


1. CAT Trucks - These CAT Trucks come in a package of six and each one can fit in the palm of your hand, which makes them the perfect thing to take on a trip. Owen was thrilled to see them because he loves worker trucks! We busted them out one at a time and O was so excited to see each one.

2. Stroller Fan - The weather in Southern California was so hot while we were in Disneyland, so this fan was a life saver.

3. The Baby Whisperer - One night we forgot to turn the white noise on and no one slept well. When sharing a room with your husband and toddler (or anyone, really) it is essential to create some "quiet" with white noise. It also helps drown out the noise of the elevator you're sharing a wall with.

4. TV Time - We used these little DVD players on the way down and then back again to watch a few shows and some movies. I wouldn't take another trip without them. They're great if you have two kids too, because they can each watch their the movie on their own screen.

5. Lollipop, Lollipops - I discovered these on Erin's blog a few weeks before our trip and promptly ordered two bags. They were a nice little treat for Owen in the car as well as while relaxing on the trian around the park.

6. Sumo Snack Stacker - This snack catcher comes with us everywhere we go, so it's no surprise it was an essential on this trip too. Every mom knows that snacks can buy you time, and when we were waiting in line for most rides we needed all the extra minutes we could get.

7. CamelBak Eddy - We love this water bottle. I would fill it with ice and water each morning so we knew Owen always had his H20 to keep him hydrated in the serious heat.

8. Hold the Bean - We wanted to maximize Owen's comfort during his inevitable road trip car nap, and this amazing little contraption was exactly what we needed to accomplish that. No more head flopping or unsuccessful blanket propping. Make sure you measure your car seat before buying one of these, because we had to get a little creative with ours, but it still worked.

9. A Comfortable Stroller - Originally we were unsure about which stroller we should bring, but we decided on the BOB and it was a great choice. It rides smoothly, gives Owen plenty of room to stretch out and has a great canopy that provide lots of sun protection.

10. Make Snacking Accessible - Owen isn't usually happy when he has to be strapped in to anything, but if he has snacks and a drink within reach he's much more willing. The snack tray made trekking around the park during snack / lunch / breakfast time a happy experience for everyone involved. 
 
Now tell us your favorite toddler / kid / baby gear items!! 

September 17, 2013

Minted Christmas Card Giveaway!

You GUYS!! I have a fantastic giveaway happening today for all of my fellow over-planners and Christmas fanatics out there! Read on for more details.

Have you started thinking about Christmas yet? You know I have, of course! And the number one thing I am always most excited to get started on is selecting our Christmas card for the year! I usually spend a lot of time pouring over all the beautiful designs, wording and color options. I want it to "say" the right thing not only with the words written on the card, but through the style and design too.

We've been choosing Minted for so many of our mist special announcements and celebrations since we placed our first order with them for our Save-the-Date cards. I feel confidant ordering our cards from Minted, because I know they are printed on high quality paper and that the people at Minted work so hard to make sure we're always satisfied. And on top of all that the designs are AMAZING and so unique.

Here are the front runners for The 2013 Sullivan Family Christmas Card:






So you're probably dying to know what this giveaway is all about, so let's get to it!

Here's how to enter to win $75 to spend on Minted Holiday cards!!!!

To enter, follow this link enter your name and email address and hit SUBMIT! The giveaway runs until 9/24/2013 at midnight PST. Best of luck! I hope that if you will you'll share with us all what you decide to order!

KTMA | Favorite Toys

Julie of The Girl in the Red Shoes is our hostess today for our Kid Tested, Mom Approved Link Up, and we're talking all about our children's favorite toys!

Our home is overflowing with toys. We seem to just keep buying more and more and more -- we're always trying to find the next thing that our little guy will love or that will just knock his socks off, but about half the time we bring the toy home to have him completely ignore it. I'm really thankful for this topic today because I think it's helped me dial in on what Owen really enjoys in a toy.

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I've noticed lately that Owen really isn't into toys with lots of buttons and lights (although he loves things with buttons and lights that are not toys, like Keith's Xbox remotes), and prefers to play with toys he can push, move, manipulate and pretend with.


His "go to" toy (the ones that can almost always keep us entertained for a long period of time) is any car, train, bus or plane -- basically anything that GOES. The boy has tons of train, cars, planes and buses from ANYWHERE and EVERYWHERE (a Target $1 section police car, a variety Chuggington trains, a red model car Porsche, a monster truck bus from Nordstrom, Matchbox cars, etc), but the little set I'm most proud of is this little one from Ikea. It was $9.99 and comes with a great track and four train cars. Great deal that provides tons of fun!


Sometimes we race the cars, sometimes we pretend they're "friends" and have voices, and it's all fun to Owen. I think he likes to pretend he's sitting in those little cars driving them around town just like his mommy and daddy do. 


While we were in Disneyland we bought him a Star Wars DISNEY Figure Set. He has obviously never seen Star Wars, but he loves acting out little scenarios with the characters. Keith has been having a ball with him teaching him all about the stories, and I usually make them all be buddies and bake cookies together because I have no clue about all that  -- oh how differently boys and girls carry on during imaginary play. For some reason Owen always wants me to be Darth Vader. I'm not sure if I should take that personally, but I kind of find it hilarious! 


And of course, if all else fails he is always happy to sit down in your lap and read a book. Although, recently he's been enjoying sitting in his chair looking a books on his own too. Some of his favorites right now include: Goodnight Moon, Star Wars ABC, Big Board First 100 Animals, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

Now please link up and tell us all about what your kid's love playing with! I'm always looking for a fun new toy to entertain my busy busy boy. Can't wait to see what you have to share!