Looking for a Holiday Gift? Give the Gift of a Stress-Free Meal!

There are some people who are impossible to shop for. They either have everything, or they don’t need/want stuff.  Well, I’ve got a great solution!

Everyone has to eat! Gift your family and friends near and far with easy, delicious meals from Dream Dinners. There is nothing better than filling their freezer with meals and giving them a break from the kitchen.

You have a couple options:

  • Have Dream Dinners Delivered: Ship four delicious dinners directly to their home. *Available in select states and zip codes.
  • Dinner for the Night: Add an extra meal or two to your monthly order to gift to friends and family.
  • Gift Card: Not sure what meals they would enjoy? A Dream Dinners gift card is the perfect solution.

And if you’ve never tried Dream Dinners, now is a great time! January time slots are filling up fast and there are a lot of great options in January’s menu (including lower-calorie options if part of your 2022 plans includes losing weight/eating less).

I’ll be writing more about Dream Dinners later this Month and into January. I’m really excited that they have more vegetarian options! If you are a San Diego, CA area local, keep your eyes peeled on my Facebook page for more information about a Dream Dinners event in January at the location in La Mesa, CA. 

Have Your Hot Girl Summer on a Budget

I’m sure by now everyone has heard the phrase “Hot Girl Summer”, but do you know what it means? The phrase can be traced back to a Megan Thee Stallion song a few years ago.

On Twitter, she explained: “Being a Hot Girl is about being unapologetically YOU, having fun, being confident, living YOUR truth, being the life of the party, etc.”

A couple of my friends have embraced it, and I think that it’s a pretty amazing outlook to have, especially since last summer was, well, Sad Trombone Noise? I know the kids are looking forward to having fun, more adventures, and getting out of the house. Here are a couple ways I’m bringing Hot Girl Summer (and sharing it with the fam).

New Bathing Suits. Kids grow, but what about me? Well after having the same swimsuits for 3 years, it’s time. Especially since we swim daily.  I bought a few new suits from Amazon. Since I’m fair-skinned I picked up one with long sleeves, the kids tease me about working at SeaWorld. This is just one of the many suits I’ve got. It’s perfect for prime sun time.

 

New Pool Bag and New Pool Toys. Every Summer it seems, we need new pool toys and a new pool bag. The Chlorine wrecks our bag (which is mesh- this helps the pool toys dry quickly), and daily use of toys leaves them.. wrecked. Dollar Tree has a great selection of sturdy pool toys, including inflatables for kids (We have a cool cookie ring that has a “bite” taken out of it). For me, I picked up a sweet inflatable float pool chair. 

Plans to meet up with friends. Now that most people have access to the vaccine, getting together with friends is a lot more feasible. We are still limiting ourselves and staying away from large gatherings where we don’t know everyone, but dinner and drinks with friends sound amazing. I’m hosting dinners a couple times a month over the summer for a few reasons: 1. To keep all of our costs down (Dinner out with drinks costs $$$ these days), and honestly, I don’t feel super safe going out for dinner all that often, especially now that there are no mask regulations in our state. And I’m having a weekend getaway with some girlfriends in a few weeks. I am really looking forward to a weekend away in a vacation rental doing a whole lot of nothing!

Take Advantage of the season: What does that mean? Summer has all sorts of fun advantages: Long days, Amazing fruit and veggies are in season, nice weather. Spend time outside (poolside, at the beach, exploring nature), enjoy a big bowl of fruit salad, make a huge salad! Community events are starting to come back (with limited event sizes), and there are lots of free events throughout the summer. EventBrite is a great place to find community events.

Make Time for You: I know… So many blogs and social media tell you to get self-care time and spend time doing things that you love, but as a parent, it can be hard without staying up late or waking up before dawn. Finding a sitter can be tough too. It’s ok to lean on family and friends. The past year has been exponentially tough on parents, and you need time to yourself. Swap child care with friends, or if you want to have a night out, split the cost of a sitter. Your kids can hang out together, while you and your friends get some time away.

Take Care of Yourself: And I don’t mean the stereotypical self-care of putting on a mud mask and drinking water with lemon slices. That’s fun, but I mean the simple acts that we often overlook as caregivers.

  • Sunscreen for your face and any exposed areas when you’ll be outside for more than 10 minutes during peak sun hours (usually 10am-4pm). Don’t forget the tops of your ears. Being super fair-skinned I also wear a sun hat too. Not super sexy, but I don’t want skin cancer.
  • Take something to drink with you. I know most of you pack snacks for your kids when you leave home, but take a few extra minutes to make yourself something that you like (bonus if it’s a snack that your kids do not like- No sharing!), and fill your water bottle. This is the water bottle I use. If you like fruit-infused water, bottles like this are great.  You can also opt for an infuser to go into your favorite bottle or insulated cup.
  • Find Something to Keep You Occupied.  Besides your kids. Pick up a book, grab a craft kit (I like embroidery- it’s easy and portable), Craftsy has some cool online classes to get you started.

I’d love to hear about how you are bringing Hot Girl Summer. Leave a comment below!

 

 

 

Dollar Tree Deals for Easter!

**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you click on links or make purchases.

Hippity Hoppity, Easter’s on it’s wayyyyyy!!! Ok, so now that I’m done singing, it’s time for me to tell you all about some of the sweet stuff that’s going on down at Dollar Tree.

I live next door to a shopping center/strip mall that has a Dollar Tree, so I’ve seen all these goodies in the flesh.

First off: Crafts! Dollar Tree has some super cool craft kits for Easter. Perfect for Easter baskets, or if you are looking for something to keep your kids occupied during Spring Break. Not all of them are egg/bunny related. Lots of fun spring crafts, including their collection of fun wooden paintable items, canvases, and stickers. Our craft cupboard is full of paintables, canvases, stickers, and misc. craft kits from Dollar Tree. I spend about $20/month there just for craft supplies. The paintables and canvases make great gifts for family (grandparents especially).

Next up, dishes. If you are hosting an Easter/Spring/Equinox dinner, Dollar Tree has you hooked up with great table settings (both durable and disposable), table decor, and even leftover containers for your guests to take home leftovers- I can’t be the only one who does that?

Ok, and Finally: Spring Cleaning. UGH. But it’s gotta be done. Dollar Tree to the rescue with buckets and household cleaners (I’m a big fan of Formula 409 myself, Goo Gone, and the drop-in tank toilet bowl cleaners). For those of you who are on the more natural path, Dollar Tree has you covered! Vinegar, scrub brushes, baking soda and more natural choices too. If part of your Spring Cleaning includes reorganizing, Dollar Tree has lots of storage solutions too!

New Recipe: Baked Tortellini

00169 (1).jpgThis recipe is dead simple. Make it as complicated as you want. Use jarred sauce, make your own from scratch, or take a jar of sauce and church it up yourself. Whatever.

Frozen pasta, fresh pasta, heck, you can even use the shell stable/dried tortellini. You could use ravioli if you wanted.

You can make this Vegetarian, Vegan, Chock Full o’ Meat, Gluten-Free, it’s up to you.

This is one of those recipes that’s a big hit at potlucks too. It’s pretty inexpensive, and we always have the ingredients in one form or another to make a batch.

Baked Tortellini

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of Red Pasta Sauce.  I usually make a big batch of this sauce and portion some out just for this recipe. If you use jarred sauce, I recommend  you add 3-4 cups of veggies (carrots, onions, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, chopped/diced tomatoes, etc.)
  • 22-30 ounces of Tortellini/Ravioli, cooked per the package directions (this will probably take a couple packages)
  • 2 Cups Italian Cheese blend

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Drain.
  2. Pour pasta sauce into a baking dish (I use a 9×13), toss cooked pasta in sauce.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-ish minutes until food is bubbly, and cheese is brown and delicious looking.
  5. Serve with hot French Bread or Garlic Bread and a green salad.

This serves 8-10 people as a main.

 

If you are vegan, substitute in filled pasta and cheese that works for you.

Dinner Party Idea: DIY Ramen Potluck!

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We love to entertain. Dinner parties are a great way to have friends over to hang out and enjoy a good meal without breaking the budget.

We also love Ramen- not Top Ramen, but delicious, mouthwatering, tempting noodles, velvety broth, veggies, and soft boiled eggs. Doing a Ramen potluck is great way to try out new flavors that you may have never thought of.

In doing research for this article, I found out that there are so many ramen toppings and ingredients that I had never heard of (like corn, which you can see in the picture above). So some of the ingredients listed below may not make it into your potluck, but know that somewhere out there there is someone putting it on/in their ramen.

The host can provide the broth. As far as ramen broths, there are lots of options. I like Tonkatsu, which is pork and chicken based. Here is a great recipe.  Not interested in making it from scratch? You can buy Tonkatsu broth concentrate on Amazon.

If you are vegan, Ocean’s Halo makes a great seaweed based ramen broth. Miso is also a popular ramen soup base (Ocean’s Halo also makes great miso, pho, and veggie broth). We usually try to have two big pots of broth to choose from.

Screen Shot 2018-12-30 at 9.26.13 AM.pngAs far as noodles, you can get regular ramen noodles at any Asian grocery store (or most 99 Cents Only locations). I’m not talking about the kind that come in a little bag with a pouch of salty broth, those are fried so they cook super fast and aren’t really all that healthy.

I like the Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen from Lotus Foods. As a bonus these are gluten free and have protein in them. Our local Costco sells large packages, which is great for parties.

Some people like Soba noodles (thick buckwheat noodles), and some people like zoodles (the spiral cut zucchini “noodles”).

Now that you’ve got broth and noodles down, it’s time to get creative with toppings! Here are just a few ideas for guests to bring:

  • Eggs: I love a good soft-boiled egg on my ramen.
  • Scallions/green onions
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Seaweed/Nori sheets
  • Canned Bamboo shoots (they will need to be rinsed and probably sliced to made bite-sized.
  • Corn Kernels (defrosted frozen, fresh, or canned with no salt- drained and rinsed).
  • Mayu/Black Garlic Oil
  • Soy Sauce
  • Chili Sauce
  • Rice Vinegar
  • Pickled Ginger
  • Fish Sauce
  • Kimchi
  • Fried Tofu
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Sliced fresh Jalapeños
  • Fried or pan steamed Gyoza
  • Roasted /braised slices of pork (fattier cuts of pork are great in ramen)
  • Cooked Shrimp (I can’t really give you any other suggestions on cooking/serving, I’m allergic to shellfish)
  • Fish Cakes (available at your local Asian Market)
  • Bok Choy
  • Mushrooms (Sliced shiitakes are nice, as are enoki)

And some people like rice as a side to their ramen. I prefer sticky rice, it’s easier to eat with chopsticks.

If you’ve got friends that don’t cook, don’t forget you’ll need chopsticks, bowls, spoons, and beverages.

Talk Back: What is your favorite type of Ramen?