Monthly Archives: August 2016

Family Pasta Dinner Perfection- Gluten-Free

Our family takes pasta seriously.  Pasta is it’s own food group with nights throughout the week dedicated just to enjoy our favorite recipes.  As a food-allergy parent finding a gluten-free sauce option that pairs well with gluten AND egg-free pasta… and with our busy back-to-school schedule making sauce from scratch doesn’t work during the week.  Keep reading to check out my new, kid-approved find for our Family Pasta Perfection. YUM.


Family Pasta Perfection- Gluten-Free

Thankfully over the past two years there are more and more variations of pasta shapes available that fit our allergy-friendly quota.  Fusilli is definitely the favorite in our rotation.  With gluten-free pasta-if you over cook it? YOU ARE DONE. Yuck- consistency? YUCK. So check yourself before you wreck yourself… no one wants a preschool with a bit of hangry asking for the tenth time when dinner will be ready. NO ONE.

If you don’t have to worry about allergies… I bet yours will taste TEN times better than the above… just an educated guess.


Mezzetta Parmigiano Reggiano Marinara

Honestly, gluten-free sauce that is DELICIOUS makes meal time fun, albeit a bit messy, but MUCH more delicious. So far the Whole Garlic & Sweet Basil passed the kid-test but the one they keep asking for me to grab is the Parmigiano Reggiano Marinara.  Perfection.


Mezzetta Marinara

Mezzetta® Marinara:
• Italian Plum Tomato
• Whole Garlic & Sweet Basil
• Caramelized Onion & Butter
• Calabrian Chili & Garlic
• Truffle, Porcini & Cream
• Parmigiano Reggiano

Simple. Rich. Real.
• Rich. The world’s best tomatoes – hailing from the rich soils of Italy’s San Marzano region.

Now enter this AMAZING giveaway!  I would love a reason to update my passport- a trip to Italy would be spectacular… the history, the traditions, the food… goodness what dreams are made of.  So you can bet that I am entering!


Mezzetta’s great Italian trip sweepstakes- ENTER HERE.
One (1) Grand Prize Winning Entry will be selected. The Grand Prize consists of a trip for Winner and one (1) Guest to attend culinary experiences (including cooking class and farm tour) in the San Marzano region of Italy and explore other cities of Italy. The Grand Prize trip consists of the round trip coach air transportation between the major commercial airport nearest winner’s residence and Rome, Italy, the culinary experience and tour of Italy.

What is your favorite pasta dish for busy nights during the week?

I need another one for the rotation… PLEASE.

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Back to School: Sleep Now

Today I am going to share what helped me when we got back into the swing of things when school went back into session in July.  That’s right- year round school calendar out here in the Valley of the Sun- which works well as we get glorious time off during the fall and winter months that are MUCH more friendly temperature wise.


First Day of School

Back to School Basics- To Help Parents

Now that some of you are getting back into school schedules and school activities, I thought I’d share with you helpful hints that could ease the transition back into the school routine for your family.

1) Start the back to school transition a week before school starts.

Wake up, have the kids eat a healthy breakfast, get changed, and BOOM.  Make sure it happens before you need to hit the road-bus-sidewalk.

My little guy likes to take his sweet time with just about everything.  I am actually grateful he wakes up so early as we need all of that available time to get ready in the morning before we are off to preschool.



2) Regulate Your Sleep- take Natrol Melatonin to help regulate healthy sleep patterns.

What?!? Go to sleep at a normal time?  What is normal anyways?  I make sure to have all the kids clothes picked out the night before, along with permission slips signed, and snack bag ready.  Being a food-allergy parent means there are a couple of other steps each day and a few extra items each week-but it is all worth it.

I have heard wonderful things about taking Natrol Melatonin and plan on talking to my doctor about incorporating into my life in the future to help with more restful and healthy sleep.

Sleep is SO necessary.

3) Get organized – organize your morning the night before, create a master calendar of after-school activities.

I have a paper calendar and a digital calendar to coincide with school, play-dates, appointments, work, and after-school activities.  I also like to use my fabulous crock-pot 2-3 times a week.  I just set it and forget it in the morning and come dinnertime we feast on a family approved recipe.  White Chicken Chili is the favorite right now.  Can’t wait to share the family recipe here soon as Fall is sneaking on up.


From my sponsor:

Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve is a 100% drug-free sleep aid that promotes healthy sleep patterns and a more relaxed night’s sleep. Natrol Melatonin Fast Dissolve tablets require no water and can be taken anywhere, anytime.

Natrol Advanced Sleep Melatonin is a 100% drug-free sleep aid that helps you fall asleep faster and stay asleep with a built in 2-layered time release that gives you an initial 5mg dosage to help you fall sleep and then releases the remaining 5mg dosage throughout your sleep to help you stay asleep.


Put Your BEST Fuzzy Foot Forward

Remember that it takes awhile for little ones… even teenagers to get into a routine.  Hopefully with a little planning and some extra shut-eye you can conquer that first week of school!

Grab a COUPON to try Natrol HERE.

What are your tips for easing into the Back to School routine?

Would love to hear from you!

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Back to School: Box Tops for Education

As a teacher I KNOW how much supplies cost each school year for the classroom.  As a parent I KNOW how much supplies cost for my child as we start another school year.  There are definitely simple ways to save each year and we always, always take care to make sure that the little things we buy (that add up over time) help out our local school.


For the past two years I have taken the time to rip, cut, and tear those Box Tops for Education out of our supplies.  The majority of our pantry and paper products contain those fabulous little money makers.  BOTH kids love bringing them into school and I love making sure that we are doing all we can to help our class and school.


Box Tops for Education are literally the easiest way to help the schools in your district.  I spend hundreds of dollars a year for my own classroom when teaching and send my preschooler in with a few hundred as well throughout the year.  Food allergies are no joke people.  Safe supplies and cleaning tools cost A LOT and are all out of

Well, I hit Walmart for some staples and to grab the Birthday Girl some balloons last week and picked up these amazing bundles with TONS of extra Box Tops for Education. My little girl was ALMOST happier with the fact that she had a brand new batch of  “tickets” to give to Mrs. Brown, almost.kleenex-box-tops-for-education

Kleenex for Box Tops for Education

Both kids loved picking out where all of the LOUD and brightly colored boxes should be… one ended up in each of their rooms.  Hilarious watching them style the house.


Viva for Box Tops for Education

Love finding paper towels that can actually wipe away messes… I mean messes make memories… and goodness can a 3 and 4 year old make messes.  Morning art time and afternoon activities make for one messy and hopefully memorable childhood.

Box Tops for Education has greatly benefited schools in our area. Whether it is the need to purchase books, computers, playground equipment for anything in between. Box Tops for Education has been helping schools across the nation since 1996. Check out Kleenex, Scott and Viva products which are available at Walmart for double the back to school box top earnings!

Don’t forget to choose wisely when shopping for Back to School.  Choose products that help teachers and students right in your very neighborhood.  As a teacher and parent I KNOW it matters.  Every little bit helps.

How do you save for Back to School?

Do you participate in Box Tops for Education?

Would love to hear from you!

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Saving my Saturday {& Sanity}


Poolside Weekend Memories

Having to waste time with the drive, the lines, the angry shoppers, and the weather (hello triple digits) does not spell a happy start to the weekend.  At least not MY weekend.  Instead, waking up, making my oh-so- necessary cup of joe and the always entertaining waffles with fruit faces is a better use of my time and talents.  Those Picasso faces will be cute for only so long …and they are made with a LOT of love. This time with them is EXACTLY what I crave.



Cannonballs AHOY

The giggles, the endless amounts of sunscreen being dolloped on, and the epic cannonballs are creating lasting memories that I hope they carry with for a lifetime.  I hope they understand how much it meant to me to have this time with them.  That I always jumped in the pool, that there was never a “too good hair” day to mess up and that I have not one ounce of regret for the scraggly do that I always end up with after a fun-filled day in the water.

Messes Make Memories

I do my best to make trips to the store fun… scavenger hunts for the items on the list and even singing and dancing (yes, I am THAT person).  But shopping and swimming will never be in the same ballpark let alone memory for my children.


LOVED the Warning- Was Necessary

Sure enough two weeks ago we ran out of toilet paper AND Kleenex.  Hooray for the fact that since potty training we rarely have mistakes… but we go through SO much more toilet paper than I thought necessary.  Add in a few dust storms that have us constantly reaching for the tissues and this mom was worried about messing up our critical plans- swimming.


My Google Express Haul

I prefer to save money and will ALWAYS shop the Big Box Stores for paper goods and water bottles.  Money is tight and I save where I can.  So being able to scroll through the usual items I get from Costco and Smart & Final on Google Express made this mom’s life just that much easier.  Honestly, life is hard right now.  Google Express is easy.

I no longer have to make the trek to the Big Box Stores to receive the same products I have been purchasing for years.  I simply added in my Costco Card Number and BOOM received the same discount.  Plus you can qualify for Free Shipping from each store depending on your purchases.  So I saved time, money, gas, and my sanity.  Talk about a helpful way to shop from my phone.  I added in the items I wanted while rocking Emma to sleep.  I literally shopped with one hand while being able to cuddle my little one as she had a rough night.

Sure I ended up covered in drool, but life is too short.  I will hold her whenever she needs the extra snuggle.


Holding the Nose

So what would you do with all of that extra time?  The extra gas?  The extra money?

Would you use it wisely?  Perhaps you should think about what memories meant the most to you and spend it doing an activity that creates those precious connections with those you hold most dear.  That is exactly what I did.


That’s My Girl

Cannonballs for life.

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Guess what friends? Now you can score $15 off your first purchase and a FREE 6-Month membership (includes free shipping- which is a $54 value).  Simply:  Use the FREETIME coupon first. Click on “TRY IT FREE”, the membership page already has the code FREETIME applied, so then go ahead and BECOME A MEMBER. Then, you can shop and use the unique Referral Code at checkout for $15 off your first purchase =  R2L7TT2E4



What would you do on Saturday with all of the extra FREE time?

Would love to hear from you!

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This post is sponsored by Google Express.  As always all opinions are always 100% my own.

Give $15, Get $15: Offer may end at any time/valid until 08/31/2016 while your account is active. Limited to Google Express accounts that received the offer from Google. Each valid referral gets you a $15 courtesy credit when the new users you referred place their first order using your referral code. Alcohol, gift cards, membership costs, and shipping & service fees excluded. Credits you give are subject toGoogle Express. Credits you get are subject toGoogle Express.*



Beach Family Vacation

As the weather hits perfection in San Diego you should think about hitting the Beach!  The kids absolutely love San Diego and can’t wait to go see their cousins soon. The beach is calling our name-but even more so?  The LIST of AMAZINGLY FREE Activities for kids throughout the month of October.


Two HAPPY Beach Babies

Browse through the ENDLESS amount of activities that are FREE for kids in San Diego throughout the month of October.  I scrolled through the activities and had a hard time narrowing down a list of what would be the favorites for our trip.


First you toast the Mallow.

There are plenty of ABSOLUTELY free activities to do in San Diego that can help keep costs down on the trip.  But there are tons of fabulous hotels that let the kids stay, play, and eat free (my kids eat A LOT) and that is another wonderful way to save come this Fall.  We love hitting Dog Beach at the Bay to let the pups run around, add in plenty of sand castle making and wave jumping, plus a dash of campfire magic and our stay in San Diego is quite magical.


Roasting Marshmallows with Cousins – Perfection

Now our list of MUST-SEES?  The San Diego Zoo, Local Aquariums, and Aviation Museums.  Animals, Animals, and things that are LOUD AND FAST.  Kids dream come true!  Plus there are plenty of restaurants that I would love to try out and am grateful that the kids would eat free with an accompanying adult.  MOM WIN.


Stories around the campfire.

For more Kids Free deals, visit KidsFreeSanD !

What activities are on YOUR wish list for San Diego?

What are the MUST-SEE places that I left off my list?

Would love to find more local finds for when we take our next trip to the beach to visit family and hit the sand.

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