What’s your meal planning schedule like? Do you do it a morning for the week ahead? Plan it out for the month? How about breakfast and lunches? There are so many different ways to approach meal planning and there is no right answer. All that matters is you try to carve out some time to get prepared. If you can make the dinner time hour feel less stressful, then you are doing something right. Just think, if you don’t have to run out to the store just before dinner for a missing ingredient, that’s more time you can spend with the kids playing at home. Or pouring a glass of wine to enjoy while you cook dinner. Or both.

We are already excited to make this One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole on Saturday. {source}

We are already excited to make this One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole on Saturday. {source}

ON THE MENU…

Sunday: Basil and Parmesan stuffed Chicken Breasts. Roasted veggies were delicious!

Monday: Spinach Tomato Feta Frittata. {Meatless Monday}

Tuesday: Chicken Nuggets, pasta shells and broccoli.

Wednesday: Tortilla Soup in slow cooker (see recipe below)

Thursday: CORN {Clean Out Refrigerator Night}

Friday: Pizza Night for Good Friday

Saturday: One Pot Cheeseburger Casserole. It says it takes 30 minutes but since it’s a new recipe I’m testing it out on the weekend.

Chicken Tortilla Soup Recipe Favorite

 

5.0 from 1 reviews
TORTILLA SOUP
Crock pot Tortilla Soup recipe the whole family will enjoy.
Author: Emily
Recipe type: slow cooker
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 frozen chicken breasts
  • 1 – 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 – 10oz can enchilada sauce
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 – 4oz can chopped green chile peppers (use mild if kids are eating)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – 32oz container chicken broth
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 – 10oz package frozen corn
  • 1 can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Place everything into a slow-cooker except the cilantro. Stir.
  2. Cover and cook on High setting for 5 hours.
  3. One half hour before serving remove chicken from soup and shred using two forks. Put chicken back into soup and stir. Let cook for remaining time.
  4. Top soup with sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, avocado slices, chopped cilantro and lime wedges.

JJ was a little surprised to see such a big Curious George

Raise your hand if your kids love Curious George. In our house, it was the first TV show we let my daughter watch. It fast became a favorite and we often here, “I want to watch George!” Now, JJ is also in love with the little monkey. It really is sweet since my favorite stories (and stuffed monkey) as a child was Curious George.

Did you know Curious George is the #1 show for preschoolers? We were lucky enough to attend a screening of the new Season 7 that starts on PBS on Monday, Dec 3rd. Some of the new shows take place in Australia where Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat get to learn all about the animals down under.

I love this short video about how kids in fact learn from watching Curious George. It’s all about encouraging our kids curiosity, just like their favorite little monkey.  Just remember, when it comes to screen time, moderation is best.  I tend to watch George with my kids and then talk about the lessons he learns in real life situations.  The compost episode is one of my personal favorites, but it was a counting buildings example that helped teach my daughter how to count spaces on a board game.

Check your local listings for show times on PBS.  Find more Curious George adventures at the PBSKids website.

Thank you to 360PR, WGBH and Stride Rite Shoes for a wonderful event! All opinions shared here are my own, and my kids!

As we start to decorate our home for the holidays, I’m trying to be mindful of the products we choose to use and display. There are so many whimsical (and cheap) plastic holiday decorations in the stores, it’s easy to get caught up in buying them. This year I’m trying to keep our holiday design space simple and healthy. For us, that means no toxic smelling candles, no synthetic fragranced lotions and excess plastic decorations. This year it will be a lot more glass, fresh pine boughs and cranberry filled vases.

As a mom, and the shopper in our house, I am responsible for creating a healthy home. I try to educate myself by learning which ingredients to watch out for, and which products might pollute the air in our home. With two little ones in the house, I want to make sure the air we breathe is as clean as can be. Did you know many laundry and dishwasher detergent release fumes into the air that can create a toxic environment for your family? Once you start learning about this stuff, it’s really hard to go back.

I recently tested out The Honest Company line of products and they fill my need to buy green products for our family without breaking the bank.  There are so many questionable ingredients from the brands we grew up with and trust. We are lucky to have new companies join the movement to offer a healthier choice for our kids. Jessica Alba started The Honest Company once she became a mom and questioned some of the ingredients commonly found in kid’s products. She did something about it and created options that are safe, but also work. I’ve tried so many green products over the years and there is nothing more frustrating than realizing the item you spent extra money for doesn’t even work. No one of the “green” mindset wants to be wasteful. I want the products in my home to be effective, but hopefully pretty!

Madison loved her special body wash!

I make a lot of exceptions for other things around the holidays, like more TV time to watch holiday favorites and loads more sweets than usual.  At least if I can keep our environment at home less toxic, that will give us all a head start on staying healthy this holiday season.

The Honest Company was started by a mom and a dad who, like many modern parents, were increasingly worried about products made with questionable chemical ingredients. But the alternatives they found were often expensive, inaccessible, bland, or ineffective. In response to this clear need for something better, they created The Honest Company to ensure that parents (or anyone for that matter!) could easily find natural and non-toxic eco-friendly products that are beautiful, effective, and affordable. From customized product bundles to diapers and wipes to an ever-expanding line of cleaning and personal care products, you can find everything you need at Honest.com and have it delivered directly to your front door.
Give it a try! Click here to become a member of The Honest Company community and start your free trial today.

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Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of The Honest Company. The opinions and text are my own.

Baby blankets don’t belong in our babies’ beds, so how do we keep them warm? There is no better way than a cozy baby sleep sack. Unfortunately so many of those on the market are made of synthetic materials that can cause the baby to overheat and actually increase the risk factor for SIDS. Woolino comes to the rescue by creating all natural 100% Australian merino wool baby sleep bags that keep baby warm at night in any season.  We used sleep sacks for both babies, starting with fleece and then moving to cotton in warmer months. Using the Woolino fabric would eliminate the need for two different sleep sacks. 

Woolino merino baby sleep bags have a host of amazing features, from being super easy to clean to having a convenient harness slot to use during travel. It is compact and warm, perfect at home or on the go. Snaps on both shoulders and an inverted zipper make dressing and diaper changes easier. I like the underarm snaps which make it adjustable to fit small babies. Your baby will be comfortable in a Woolino 4 Season baby sleep bag in temperatures ranging from 63 to 78 degrees Fahrenheit. It comes with a travel bag, room thermometer, and it is in a plastic-free, ready-to-gift package which makes it perfect for a baby shower or a holiday present!

Our Favorite Features: 
  • Fits babies 3 to 24 months
  • Seat belt slot for easy transfer from car to crib
  • Naturally anti-microbial, anti-fungal
  • Naturally fire resistant without the use of harsh chemicals
  • Regulates temperature
  • Made with sustainable and 100% natural Australian merino wool
  • GOTS certified organic cotton outer
  • Machine washable
  • Super soft on baby’s skin
Purchase: The 2013 Collection Woolino 4 Season Baby Sleep Bags retail for $119.99 each, you can purchase it on the Woolino website. They also make toddler sleep sacks for kids 2 to 4 years old! The Woolino sleep bags are also available on Amazon
Win One! Woolino is blessing two of you with a 2013 Collection Woolino 4 Season Baby Sleep Bag in size 3 to 24 months, one reader will win Sage and another Spring (both gender neutral).

Special thanks to AnaB Social for hosting this giveaway. Giveaway ends December 27th at 12:01 am, open to US and Canadian residents, ages 18+. To enter please use the Rafflecopter form below. Thank you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Disclaimer: AnaB Social is not responsible for sponsor prize shipment. This a group giveaway. I thought my readers would enjoy the chance to win a beautiful organic sleep sack. 

Today is officially “Green Tuesday.” It’s a new idea to counteract the consumerism that has overloaded us all starting with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. I like to think of it as a chance to step back and really think about what you are buying for the holidays.

Here are a couple of great eco-friendly sites that I have used in the past. It’s kind of like shopping at Whole Foods. You know they filter out the products that are less healthy/less real food-like.  It’s the same for these sites. They have done some of the leg work for you to highlight only the safest choices for your families.

1. EcoMom

One of my favorite shopping sites since it launched. Awesome customer service and fast shipping. They have great sales on some of my favorite baby/toddler food snacks. Plus a safe assortment of toys, including some unique wooden toy options.

2. Vine.com

This is a new site that launched this fall. The product assortment is growing and does include some of my favorite brands already, like Ella’s Kitchen and Biokleen. (Vine.com is the same parent company as Diapers.com) There is a wide range of products, from work out clothes to Dwell rugs. There is a wide range of “green” products listed here. Note the “natural” products may not always be the best choice, but at least they are better than conventional ones.

3. GreenDeals.org
Flash sale site. I just missed out on a cool natural paint set at a great price. Act fast as the quantities are limited! Look for Green Tuesday deals today on the site.

4. Etsy.com

ic: theverge.com

Before Pinterest, Etsy was my favorite time suck online. I loved to browse random shops for cute toddler headbands or fun kitchen towels. There is something for everyone in Etsy and I love being able to support small businesses focusing on handmade items. I like to start with their lists, the EtsyKids one is a favorite.

5. Green Amazon
The ease of shopping on Amazon and they did the work to find the green products for you.

What are your favorite eco-friendly shopping sites?

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We just wrapped up our annual “second Thanksgiving.”  We don’t have the space to host my extended family, so we typically travel for Thanksgiving.  For the past few years, we always cook our own Thanksgiving on the following Sunday.  This allows us to blend my family food traditions with my husbands.  Our stuffing recipes is a blend of my Grammy’s recipe and my mother-in-laws additions of sausage and cranberry sauce.  It’s delicious and a favorite at the table. The highlight of this year’s second Thanksgiving~the made-from-scratch green bean casserole.  This traditional favorite made with some questionable ingredients made me switch to this amazing recipe from Williams and Sonoma. Easy to make and totally worth it.

Needless to say, we have a lot of turkey leftovers after cooking a 20 pound bird…

Monday~ Leftovers
Tuesday~ Turkey shepherd’s pie
Wednesday~ Cheesy Meatloaf  (got bumped from last week’s meal plan)
Thursday~ Chicken Pad Thai  (the kids LOVED the asian flavors in the soy-citrus ginger scallops last week so we are going to try adding in more asian inspired meals to mix it up)
Friday~ Pizza
Saturday~ Steak, Asparagus

What are you doing with your turkey leftovers?

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As the holiday season begins, now is the time for holiday parties. Whether or not you are hosting a party, or just a guest, wine is a key element. As a hostess, you are choosing wine that will appeal to most of your guests, while not breaking the bank. As a guest, you may bring wine as a hostess gift and choose something special, while also not breaking the bank. Here is where Likelii comes into play.

If you head over to Likelii, you will find a place to discover new brands of wine to test out. The suggestions are personalized based on what you already like. When I talked to friends about the site, they essentially called it a Pandora for wine, which is exactly right.

When I noted my favorite wine is Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Likelii came back with new wines for me to try.  It gives you the wine name, region and a rating of how likely you are to enjoy it.  I found it fairly accurate since it populated the recommendations with a few wines I have bought before, plus none of the Chilean Sauvignon Blancs that I don’t really care for.

In the blog section of the site, you can find some articles about new wine trends and upcoming wines to try.  This past week, they had recommendations for Thanksgiving wines to try.  You can register for the  site for free and then save the wines to shop for when you are ready.

Here is the best part about Likelii.  At least it is to me since I have two toddlers in tow.  You can order the wine online that you like best and have it delivered to your doorstep. (in most states I should note.) Someone over 21 also has to sign for the wine when it is delivered.  In a town that doesn’t have any liquor stores (at least for a few more months) being able to order wine online for a party, or just to stock up, is a big win for busy moms. You get free shipping when you buy $100 or more. I would like to see the site add some volume discounts, especially if you want to order a case of a certain wine.

Which wine are you most “Likelii” to buy for a party?  My hostess tip, always buy more white than red.  Guests tend to arrive with more reds than whites to share since they are room temp.

Happy wine shopping!

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I love to hear your feedback and comments. Stop by and visit FacebookPinterest or Twitter for more conversation!  Or get posts delivered via Email or RSS Feed. Disclosure: Likelii provided me with promotional product to help facilitate this review. All opinions shared here are my own. 

Question for the Moms.  Do you buy your own gifts that will be from your husband or do you give him a list?  Or, do you let them figure it all out on their own?  No easy answer, but here’s a little starting point to inspire some purchases.  This is a collection of items on my own wish list, items I have reviewed and loved this year and also some great hostess gift items.

3. iPad mini
4. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Cleaning Set. Love the Iowa Pine scent!
7. iPhone 5. Yes, I’m ready for an upgrade.
8. Mom Goodz gifts created by a local mom. They just make you smile.

If you are a mom, what is on your wish list this holiday season? 

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Although sending paper holiday cards isn’t the most eco-friendly choice I make during the holidays, I have found a company that makes me feel a little less guilty. Paper Culture offers holiday cards on beautiful paper that is made on 100% post consumer recycled paper.  When I heard about an opportunity to review them, I jumped at the opportunity since it would make me a repeat customer.

Last year’s Paper Culture Holiday Card

Last year I ordered my holiday cards from Paper Culture at the beginning of November.  (There are always better deals for early birds when it comes to holiday cards.)  I loved the design choices, ranging from whimsical to modern.  It makes me happy when I don’t have to week through pages of tacky designs to find just the right card.

The customer service is excellent.  When I placed my order last year, a representative contacted me to review the lettering I choose for the card.  They suggested an alternative to the apostrophe that I initially included in our name.  I appreciated the personal attention and loved how the cards came out.

This year I also picked a custom design for the back. I choose to add some pictures of the kids from the past year.  You get the space and flexibility to talk about milestones or special occasions that happened in the past year.  It makes choosing photos a little easier too.

Sneak peek only at the front!

Look for special deals and coupons on the site. Currently, there is a 25% off sale plus free shipping.  Like most sites, the more cards you order, the less expensive they are.  All designs cost the same which is another benefit in my opinion. Plus, with every order, a tree is planted.

When do you order your holiday cards?  Are they done yet?

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Disclosure: I received a stipend to cover some of the costs of the cards. All opinions shared here are my own.

It’s nearly turkey time!! I love Thanksgiving and all the delicious food that comes with it.  We are not hosting on Thursday, but instead will cook a leisurely “second” Thanksgiving on Sunday.  The leftovers are one of the best parts and we miss out when we don’t host.  I think I’ll get our turkey from Trader Joe’s which looks to have the best price on natural, antibiotic free turkeys.  We will make stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash and homemade gravy using our own chicken stock.  Maybe corn bread pudding too, which is a recipe I have come to love from my husband’s family.

What is on your Thanksgiving menu?

Easy Chicken Curry from weelicious.com

Here is what’s on tap for us the rest of the week…
Sunday~ Easy chicken curry with rice and salad on the side.
Monday~ Beef stew in the Ninja slow cooker. Egg noodles on the side.
Tuesday~ Soy-citrus scallops with soba noodles, sautéed snow peas.
Wednesday~ Sandwich night.
Thursday~ Thanksgiving! I’m in charge of making apple pie.
Friday~ Pizza night
Saturday~ Cheesy mini meatloaf, green beans.
Sunday~ 2nd Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!
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I love to hear your feedback and comments. Stop by and visit FacebookPinterest or Twitter for more conversation!  Or get posts delivered via Email or RSS FeedFor more meal planning ideas, stop by Meal Plan Monday