Winter Wonderland: Coleman Collection

I have these vivid memories of visiting Coleman as a child. For a long time I would describe it to people, but no one knew what I was talking about. From my memories, (however wrong they may be) there were rooms of these displays around the holidays, but it caught on fire. I knew that several of the trains ended up at the Children's Museum, but I was surprised to hear that the Portsmouth Art and Cultural Center had a display of them that was able to be saved. The Winter Wonderland is open now until December 31st and is free for Portsmouth Museum Pass Holders. (If you have a pass to the Children's Museum- this you!) For non members, it's only $3.00 per person. Check their event schedule, as Santa makes regular afternoon appearances along with face painting, pony rides, and holiday crafts.
When you go in, be sure to grab a scavenger hunt map so you can try to spot the 12 items between the two floors. There are some mazes and word search type activities for kids (or adults!) too. We saw one family that made a competition out of it. 

We actually went in backwards. Be sure to go around the corner to the Winter Wonderland entrance first before working your way to the gift shop which has some actives for kids int the back. I'd say that we spent about 30 minutes in here, but could have spent more time in the gift shop area is R had seen the block sets. 
 
Hours:
Monday: Closed
Tuesday-Thursday: 9-5
Friday-Saturday 9-8
Sunday:11-5
We walked the block over to the Children's Museum and played with the trains for a while before having an awesome lunch at Five Borough's Pizza. Now I'm not saying that I'm a falafel snob, but I am saying that having been to Israel I've eaten it for most meals whenever I'm there. Let's just say, I love the stuff. This place did not disappoint, was obviously family owned, and had good simple New York pizza too. On Sundays they apparently do dollar slices, which means we will be back on a Sunday. It's within walking distance to both museums.

Norfolk Outlets Nature Walk

We are trying to get in as much outdoor time as possible while it's nice. With the weather here, you never know how long it will last, and fall quickly turns into winter. We grabbed one of the warmer fall days and ran with it. The outlets are not far from our house and I had heard about their nature walk, but hadn't been on it myself. R seems to be enjoying our walks and they are a good reason for us to all be out of the house.

The trail begins at the fountain towards the back of the outlets and winds around the lake for 1.6 miles. There is some construction and you can hear the interstate, but it looks like they are planting several trees to hopefully block some of this.

We saw butterflies, squirrels, and lots and lots of turtles. They were out sunning everywhere. We even spotted a digger along the way.

If you want to avoid the outlets, there is a parking lot on the other side of the lake for the trail. The trail goes across a bridge and around the lake. In a few years once the trees grow up, I imagine it will be even prettier. We finished the walk at the playground. It isn't the best for little kids, but we let R run around for a few minutes. 




It was a nice day to stretch our legs. I wouldn't say that the trail is the most scenic part of nature, but if you're headed to the outlets and want to walk off a pretzel, it's a great place to move around a bit. Enjoy this weather! 




She Works Hard For The Mommy v3


I'm Jessica, the owner and creator of HBC Organics. HBC Organics is an organic skincare company that is chemical free and organic. I make all the products myself & pride myself on the quality clean products I'm providing for families not only locally but all over the United States. I also am a two time cookbook author.
I was in school for nutrition and learned about making cold process soap. I spent the last $20 my then fiance (now husband) and I had in our bank account and made a batch of soap. I sold 8 out of the 10 bars and made more. Eventually I started figuring out how to make body butters, face washes, and more. Almost all of my products are baby and toddler friendly. Almost all of my products are toddler friendly. These are my baby/toddler products:
  • Baby Butter- baby lotion, thicker than lotion but thinner than body butter.
  • Butt Butter- a zinc oxide diaper rash cream.
  • Baby Wash- a head to toe body wash.
  • Baby Oil- a moisturizing, calming baby oil.


I'm always doing a lot of trial and error experiments to figure out how to make another product. My nutrition school also lead me to learn a ton about nutrition and wellness. I was always posting healthy recipes. After a few years my husband and I put a cookbook together. My cookbooks are family friendly! There are lots of simple meals, toddler friendly recipes, and more.

All of my other products are great for moms. I like to look at quality self care. A lot of moms love my body butters, scrubs, and bath bombs. They are a great way to pamper yourself even when you're on a budget. 
I make all my products myself, so balancing being a mom and working is a challenge. When my first son was born, I was constantly trying to juggle working and being a mom. I ended up being a stressed out mess quite a bit of the time. Once my second son was born, I decided to set working hours. I have my oldest in a Montessori preschool program three days a week. Then I bring my youngest home and I work for a couple hours while he plays with the pots and pans in my kitchen. We are starting to come to the point where my youngest will have to go to a sitter's house probably one or two days a week so I can keep up with my sales.
My biggest challenge is separating work from home. When your work is at your home, it is easy to say, “Oh well I will just answer these emails real quick while the kids are watching Daniel Tiger” but then I will find myself answering emails and following up on leads for hours. If I need extra time to get work done, I will have my husband take the kids out for ice cream or to the zoo for a couple hours on the weekend so I can catch up.

Thanks Jessica! If you'd like to learn more about Jessica's products, made here locally, check out hbcorganics.com!  If you'd like to be featured on "She Works Hard for the Mommy" please send me an email! 


Far Away Friday: Raleigh Part 3

The North Carolina Museum of Natural Science is located in downtown Raleigh and is free! It's huge, with four floors in each of its two buildings. We went because we wanted to let R see the dinosaurs, but turns out- he is scared of them! Of course, Jessica and I putting our heads in the mouth of one of them probably didn't help. You live, you learn.
The big hits were the living collections, which include lots of fish, arthropods, invertebrates, reptiles, amphibians,  and a huge walk in butterfly exhibit which also had a two toed sloth. I'd recommend hitting the sloth and butterflies around snack time so you see the sloth coming down.
 


This is one of those museums that you could spend days at and not see everything. There are more exhibits tucked into back corners and down hallways and corridors. We looked more at the Nature Exploration Center and less in the Research Center because we thought it would be better for R, but I look forward to checking out the other side too.
I'd say if you hit anywhere in the museum, be sure to check out the Discovery Room, which is perfect for toddlers. In this room there are boxes that adults can pull out to explore with their kids. We picked the Hungry, Hungry, Caterpillar which had the book, some replica butterflies, a memory game, and several other little odds and ends. There were also puzzles, blocks, and several hands on science items for toddlers. The room opens at one to the public, but has morning programing. Each Tuesday there is a drop in class Nature Playscape and on Thursdays they offer Nature Stories. Check the website for the venue for each.



This museum is a lot like the one in DC in the content that they offer, but unlike that one, there was NO line to get in, and it wasn't overly crowded. One reason I don't like the museums in DC is that it's so packed you have to fight to see things. I wouldn't feel safe letting R walk around there either. But here I felt totally fine! We ate lunch at the cafe before coming in and everyone enjoyed their food. Add this to your list if you're in the area!
This is part three of our trip to Raleigh. Check out parts one and two! 
As always, if you're interested in writing a Far Away Friday, please contact me! 

Lidl Dinners: Pasta Primavera



Pasta Primavera

Prep Time: 5 mins                    Cook Time: 30mins             Total Time: 35 mins

Ingredients:

12 oz pasta (I prefer the Tri-color rotini.)
1/2 lb. frozen broccoli cuts, thawed and drained well
1/2 - 1 cup shredded carrots
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, cut into thin strips
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 tsp minced garlic
1 onion diced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup shredded Italian cheese
4 oz ricotta cheese

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to directions on box.
2. After 5 mins, add the broccoli, carrots, and bell pepper to the boiling water. Bring back to a boil for another 2 minutes of cooking.
3. Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water; then drain the pasta and vegetables and return to the pot.
4. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until just golden, about 1 - 2 mins. Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp salt. Cook until the tomatoes begin to wilt, about 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup of the reserved cooking water.
5. Pour the tomato mixture over the pasta and vegetables.
6. Add the cheeses and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

As this dish sits, it tends to dry out. Just add a little bit of heavy cream and more ricotta cheese. Stir well, and then heat up. Good as new.



Crock Pot Balsamic Chicken Thighs (serves 6-8)

Prep Time: 5 mins                    Cook Time: 4 hours             Total Time: 4 hours 5 mins

Ingredients:
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 onion, chopped finely
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tbs olive oil
6-8 chicken thighs

Directions:

1. Combine the first three dry spices in a small bowl and spread over chicken on both sides. Set aside.
2. Pour olive oil and garlic with onion on bottom of the crock pot. Pour in 1/4 balsamic vinegar. Place chicken on top. Turn chicken over so both sides have "kissed" the balsamic vinegar.

3. Cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours. 


This is part of my seven days of dinners with Lidl. We spent under $90.00 for seven meals for a family of four. All meals are toddler and mom approved, and we even bought several desserts! Click here for the rest of the list. This is the last of the meals, and the leftovers in the past seven days have been awesome. Now to go shopping again! 


Lidl Dinners: Fried Rice with Tofu


Fried Rice with Tofu (serves 4-6)

Prep Time: 50 mins                    Cook Time: 15 mins             Total Time: 65 mins

Ingredients:

3 eggs                                                              salt and pepper
4 cups cooked instant rice                              4 Tbs olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped                                             
1/4 cup red or yellow pepper, finely chopped
1 pkg of Extra firm tofu, drained and cut into tiny cubes.

Instructions:

Preparing tofu (can be done ahead of time)
1. Drain tofu and place between several layers of paper towels. Squeeze water out of the tofu as much as possible.
2. Cut into small cubes.
3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange tofu in a single later on a baking sheet. Lightly spray or baste tofu with cooking oil.
4. Bake in oven until golden brown, flipping half way through - for 20 minutes on each side.

Preparing Fried Rice:
1. Beat the eggs well, adding 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
2. Sauté onions and peppers in skillet until soft.
3. Add eggs and stir until all the eggs solidify.
4. Add the rice and tofu and mix well.
5. Stir for 2-4 minutes until everything is cooked and mixed well.

Serve with frozen peas. (I like mine mixed with my rice, but some people don't!) We used the Lidl
chicken egg rolls for the meat eaters, and the spring rolls for the veggies. We also bought a side of
edamame which you just pop into the microwave. The chicken is the frozen Boneless Chicken
Wyngz.
Shopping List: 
1. Extra Firm Tofu: $1.69
2. Eggs: $.99 
3. Instant Rice (only use half the box): $2.39 
4. Frozen green peas: $.95 
5. Edamame: $.95
6. Spring Rolls: $4.99
7. Egg Rolls: $2.99
8. Boneless Chicken Wyngz (only use half the bag): $2.69


      There was more than enough rice, spring rolls, and edamame for leftovers for two lunches!   
      This is part of my seven days of dinners with Lidl. We spent under $90.00 for seven meals for a family of four. All meals are toddler and mom approved, and we even bought several desserts! Click here for the rest of the list. 

Lidl Dinners: Quesadillas and Sweet Potato Boats


Quesadillas are a staple in our house. They are easy, they taste good, you can put about anything in them, and they are easy to customize. Pair it with some easy sweet potato boats and a side of rice and you've got a meal.


Quesadilla

Prep Time: 5 mins                    Cook Time: 5mins             Total Time: 10 mins

Ingredients:
12 oz Mexican cheese, shredded
1 pkg flour tortillas
(optional additional toppings: 6 oz can sliced olives, drained; 2 scallions, finely chopped; 2 tbs chopped cilantro)
Butter (more or less to your taste)

Directions:

1. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 TBS oil.
* If you want veggies- I like to cook the first. Although not listed, you can throw in any leftover veggies that remain from the shopping list. 
2. Add 1 flour tortilla to skillet and top one half with veggies/beans/whatever you want and cheese. Fold over and crease. Add butter to both sides. 
3. Cook until tortilla begins to brown. Flip over and cook on second side.
4. Slice into wedges and serve.
If available, serve with sour cream and top with cilantro. 

Serve with beans and rice on the side. 

Sweet Potato Boats

Prep Time: 5 mins                    Cook Time: 5-10 mins             Total Time: 10-15 mins

Ingredients:
2 - 4 sweet potatoes
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes - spicy if you like extra heat - drained
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained
1 7 oz. can yellow corn, drained
1/2 pkg of Mexican grated cheese

Instructions:

1.     Bake sweet potatoes in a 400-degree F oven directly on the baking rack for 40-45 minutes or until tender to the touch.  Remove from oven to cool to the touch, but leave oven on.
2.     While potatoes are baking, drain tomatoes and mix with beans and corn.
3.     Carefully cut sweet potatoes in half and scoop out insides to make “boats.” Leave ~ 1/4 – 1/2 inch of flesh so they don’t become too fragile and difficult to handle.
4.     Place sweet potato boats face up on a baking sheet and fill with bean and corn mixture and top evenly with grated cheese.
5.     Pop back in oven to warm through and remove when cheese is melted and bubbly.

This is part of my seven days of dinners with Lidl. We spent under $90.00 for seven meals for a family of four. All meals are toddler and mom approved, and we even bought several desserts! Click here for the rest of the list. 


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