• Good Habits Start Early with Octopus

    This post has been compensated by IHelpMoms.com and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

    Creating good habits are hard enough for anyone to get down, but when you are little it makes it tough sometimes to remember what has to be done next. There are so many distractions in our day to day life that a little head start never hurt anyone. That is why I love the Octopus watch by Joy.

    With this Octopus watch, I downloaded an app and plugged in the things I wanted Tyler to be reminded about and when I wanted the reminders and we were set to go.

    That way if Tyler gets a little distracted by something in the mornings his watch will let him know that it is time to start getting ready for school. And remind him of each task, such as filling his water bottle, packing his backpack and brushing his teeth. I never have to remind him to eat breakfast!

    The Octopus watch is the training wheels for good habits®. And I love that it points kids in the right direction. Now we don’t deal with the confusion of what time to start getting ready and what has to be done next. When he gets home from school we have about 10 minutes for him to get settled and find a snack before he gets his reminder to check for homework and get in some extra reading time.

    The first icon-based watch that empowers kids by teaching good habits and the concept of time. I love that it fosters responsibility, independence, and self-esteem.

    My handsome boy all ready for a day of school!

    I don’t have anything set for during school hours because I don’t want the watch to become a distraction for him while he should be learning. But he still loves wearing it!

    For the rest of this month, make sure you take advantage of the discount of 25% off! Use code ihelpmoms2018 for the month of March!

    What are your favorite ways to keep your littles on track?

  • Ranch Pasta Salad

    It may only be February, but I am dreaming of sunny days full of hot hot sunshine. Anyone else?

    Winter hasn’t been near as bad as past years, but I will take the heat over cold any day of the week. And because our summers fly by, I am making plans already to fill my days with lounging at the lake, relaxing in the back yard with a cold drink and lots and lots of play dates with kids screaming with laughter as they slide down the slip n slide.

    One thing we do a couple times a year is have back yard bbq’s with our family and friends. And I am always looking for the perfect BBQ food! Pasta salads are always a must and this BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad is definitely a favorite.

    Originally I found a recipe for BBQ Ranch Pasta Salad over on Spicy Southern Kitchen, but after I couldn’t find the same dressing I had to change things up a bit.

    Ranch Pasta Salad

    And because I had never had the original dressing, I wasn’t missing out! This dressing was delicious!!

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    It really couldn’t have been easier to make! Which are another favorite things of mine! Quick and easy pasta salads are awesome!!

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    This is all of the ingredients mixed together except for the pasta and corn chips.

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    • 16 oz pasta, cooked per package direction – I used elbow and sprial because that is what I had!
    • 1 cup of Southwestern Ranch Dressing
    • ⅓ cup sour cream
    • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 cup canned corn, drained
    • ½ red bell pepper, diced
    • ½ small red onion, finely diced
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 cup corn chips
    1. Place cooked pasta in a large bowl.
    2. Stir together dressing and sour cream and pour over pasta. Mix together
    3. Add all remaining ingredients, except corn chips, and stir to combine.
    4. Refrigerate until ready to serve and sprinkle corn chips on top just before serving.

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    I wish I had gotten a better picture of this when I originally made it! Because this picture doesn’t really do it justice!  Maybe next time!

    What is your go-to pasta salad?

  • Circus Animal Cheesecake

    Last summer for my sister in laws birthday we had invited her over for dinner and I asked what kind of cake she wanted. She sent me a pinterest picture for this Circus Animal Cheesecake and I was immediately excited to make it! I probably never would have made it for my kids so this was a fun chance to make it. And this way I could send half of it home with her!

    Even though there are several steps to get this Circus Animal Cheesecake made, it is completely worth it! Though it is extremely rich! Again…. totally worth it!

    I felt like it was so pretty that I kept taking pictures of it and didn’t really want to cut into it!

    Recipe from Life, Love and Sugar

    CRUST

    2 1/4 cups frosted animal cookie crumbs
    2 tbsp salted butter, melted

    FILLING

    24 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    1 cup sugar
    3 tbsp all purpose flour
    1 cup sour cream at room temperature
    1 tbsp vanilla extract
    4 large eggs at room temperature
    2 cups chopped frosted animal cookies, divided

    WHITE CHOCOLATE GANACHE

    6 oz white chocolate chips
    1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
    Pink gel icing color
    Sprinkles

    WHIPPED CREAM

    1/2 cup cold heavy whipping cream
    4 tbsp powdered sugar
    1/2 tsp vanilla extract

    DIRECTIONS:

    CRUST

    1. Preheat oven to 325°F
    2. Line a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper in the bottom and grease the sides.
    3. Combine the crust ingredients in a small bowl.
    4. Press the mixture into the bottom of the springform pan.
    5. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and set aside to cool.
    6. Cover the outsides of the pan with aluminum foil so that water from the water bath cannot get in.
    7. Set prepared pan aside.

    CHEESECAKE FILLING

    1. Reduce oven to 300°F
    2. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour until well combined (Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks). Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
    3. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract, mixing on low speed until well combined.
    4. Add the eggs one at a time, beat slowly and scrape the sides of the bowl after each egg.
    5. Stir in 1 1/4 cups of chopped animal cookies just until mixed, so the colors from the sprinkles don’t mix into the batter too much.
    6. Pour a small amount of batter into the bottom of the crust in an even layer, then add the remaining 3/4 cup of chopped animal cookies.
    7. Pour the remaining cheesecake filling into crust, over the cookies, and spread into an even layer.
    8. Place springform pan inside another larger pan. Fill the larger pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the springform pan. The water should not go above the top edge of the aluminum foil on the springform pan.
    9. Bake for 1 hour and 25 minutes.
    10. Turn off heat and leave cheesecake in oven with door closed for 30 minutes.
    11. Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for about 30 minutes.
    12. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours or overnight.

    TO FINISH OFF THE CHEESECAKE

    1. When the cheesecake is cool and firm, remove from the springform pan and set on a serving plate.
    2. To make the white chocolate ganache start with putting the white chocolate chips in a bowl.
    3. Microwave the heavy whipping cream until it just begins to boil, then pour it over the chocolate chips. Allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes, then whisk until smooth. If it doesn’t melt completely, microwave for 10-20 seconds, then whisk until smooth.
    4. Color the ganache with a little pink gel coloring.
    5. Pour the ganache onto the cheesecake and spread into an even layer.
    6. To make the whipped cream, add the heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract to a large mixer bowl. Mix on high speed until stiff peaks form.
    7. Add dollops of the whipped cream on top of the white chocolate ganache.
    8. Top the cheesecake with frosted animal cookies and some sprinkles. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

    The only thing I was bummed about it not getting a well lit picture of it sliced! It was already getting late by the time we cut into it, but it is still pretty and I was pretty darn proud of how it turned out!

    If this Circus Animal Cheesecake sounds amazing or if you love cheesecake as much as I do, check out The Perfect Cheesecake, Caramel Toffee Crunch Cheesecake, Caramel Apple Cheesecake, and Mini Snickers Cheesecakes.

  • Kid Friendly Lunch Ideas

    This post has been compensated by IHelpMoms.com and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

    As a busy mom of three, kid friendly lunch ideas are so important because the last thing I want to spend a lot of time on is packing lunches. And while my kids like to eat sandwiches they get bored with them so I am always looking for ways to change up lunch time.

    I am super lucky that none of my kids have food allergies to date, but Tyler is my picky kid so sometimes I have to get creative with lunches. He occasionally has school lunch, but I would say at least half of the time he doesn’t like the option and wants to pack a lunch so I wanted to share a few of his favorite lunches to take.

    That is why I love this bento lunch box set from Bentology. The five separate compartments leave lots of room for food for my always hungry kiddos while keeping everything portion controlled.

    And the fun patterns that they come in keep the kids laughing and entertained! They love their emojo set! And I think I need the Flamingo Set!

    Weekly Menu ideas, Recipes, and more on the blog: https://bentology.com/resources/bentology-blog/

    Make sure you look for Bentology on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST

    This one is totally Summer’s ideal lunch! And Tyler won’t touch mac n cheese!

    They aren’t just for school lunches! Sometimes if we are going to be out and about running errands I love to pack a lunch before we head out the door. I know it is just a matter of time before I hear someone from the back seat say, “I’m hungry” and now I am more than prepared!

    Purchase your own kit with a 25% discount right now through 1/22/18! Use the code ihelp25

    And feel free to check out a few of my past Kid Friendly Lunch Ideas and Nutter Butter Ice Cream Cones.

    Right now you can win a Bentology Bento Kit of your very own! Check out the Giveaway below to enter to win!! You have lots of chances to get your name in the running!

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  • Dating your Daughter

    This post has been compensated by IHelpMoms.com and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

    I love having Mama/Daughter time with Summer. She turned 5 a few months ago and still thinks I am the best of the best. I know the days will come when I am not her favorite person, so for now I am going to enjoy every moment of our bestie time together.

    I am always looking for new ways to have one on time with the kids. Summer is the easiest because we just happen to like all the same girlie things.

    One thing that is great about dating your kids is that they are a pretty cheap date! I mean, it is fun to go out to lunch or go get pedicures and all, but we have lots of fun without spending a bunch of money!

    One of Summer’s favorite things to do it take selfies. Girlfriend loves to get her picture taken (most of the time!). She loves using the filters on SnapChat – The filters are actually all we use it for! But pretty much any occasion has to be marked with a selfie!

    Summer loves to be read to. We are working on learning her sounds and sounding out words so that she is ahead of the game when she heads off to Kindergarten next Fall. Her favorite is Huggy Kissy. Have you read that one before?

    Normally painting her nails is enough but one day we ran across fake nails for kids and she thought it was the coolest thing ever! I won’t lie, they lasted less than 24 hours and I even found one stuck in her hair the next morning, but she had fun and loved spending the time putting them on!

    Matchy matchy! I have made several matching shirts for her and I, and we have matching pajamas. She always asks to wear out matching clothes. But now, thanks to The Dreamland Company we have matching nightgowns!

    I love this sleep ware because they are made with LUXE cotton with a touch of stretch and are amazingly soft.  These nightgowns are designed and made by women right here in the USA. And now these adorable kids sizes are available so you and your daughter can match too! 

    Right now you can even get a great Deal For Moms! SAVE $5 WHEN YOU — USE CODE: “ihelpmoms”

    Don’t miss The Dreamland Company on Facebook and Instagram! @TheDreamLandCompany
    They would be great Christmas presents for not only yourself and your daughter, but your mom, grandma or any other lady in your life.

    I wish I would have had one after having my kids because it would have been great to change into my own nightgown and be comfortable rather than wearing a hospital gown!

    Spending a morning with curlers in her hair while we scrapbooked was fun too. Any type of crafts go over well at my house.

    Or even a girls day watching girlie movies is good too!

    But really, anytime that I get to just relax with my girl makes for a great date!

    What are your favorite ways to date your daughter?