Google Dollops of Diane

Monday, August 10, 2015

Little Elliot, Big City: Book and Wall Decal Giveaway!

We are big fans of Little Elliot, Big City in this household. I mean what's not to love about an adorable elephant, his friend the mouse, and cupcakes (yum!)? Oh, and it just so happens that my hugely talented brother in law wrote and illustrated the book! The kids think it's so cool to find Uncle Mike's book at every bookstore we go to...

But beyond sounding biased because we have a personal connection to the book, it really is a cute story with beautiful illustrations and a kind message. We can't wait for Little Elliot, Big Family to hit the shelves on October 6, 2015!

We were also recently given the opportunity to receive wall decals from Live In A Story featuring none other than Little Elliot. The kids were so excited! Live In A Story decals are designed by picture book artists, eco friendly, and made in the USA. The decals were super easy to apply, stay on well, and add extra excitement to the room!

Super cute, right? One lucky Dollops reader is going to receive a free copy of Little Elliot, Big City AND a set of Live In A Story wall decals! In addition to this prize being great for you, it could also make a great donation to your child/grandchild's classroom or a local library! Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
*Disclosure: I received complimentary wall decals to help facilitate this review. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

80s Fun!

My brother in law and sister in law recently celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary. Since they didn't do a big bash for the original wedding they decided to throw a party for the anniversary. So we spent this past weekend in Vermont having family fun. There were lots of laughs, lots of food, and lots of beverages. The big event of the weekend was Saturday night, where I'm not going to lie, Tim and I crushed it for the era themed party.

We're like totally rad, right? 80s to the max!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Happy 5th Birthday, Daniel!

Today Daniel turns FIVE! He continues to be rambunctious, full of life, and loves to be active. He loves sports, going to the beach, and annoying his siblings.

D's favorite path at Borderland
Each year, I ask the kids the same questions on their birthdays. Now that they are getting older, they love looking back on their answers from the past.

Daniel's 5th Birthday

Favorite Color: Orange
Favorite Show: Chuck (The Adventures of Chuck and Friends)
Favorite Thing To Do Inside: Play with Henry and play checkers
Favorite Thing To Do Outside: Swing on swings, play Tire Ball (throwing a baseball through a tire), frisbee, and play football 
Favorite Snack: Cat Cookies (from Trader Joe's) with milk and muffins
Favorite Meal: Tacos
Favorite Song: This Land Is Your Land
Favorite Thing To Do With Dadda: Get ice cream
Favorite Thing To Do With Mamma: Go to the bike path
Favorite Thing To Do As A Family: Go to a hotel (This is a new question that Daniel wanted to add this year!)
When I Grow Up I Want To Be: A Baker and  Fireman
If I Had Lots of Money: I'd go to Launch (Trampoline Park)

Just can't get enough of Daniel? You can check out the story of his arrival HERE, his first year in pictures HERE, and his answers to last year's questions HERE.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Perfect Waterproof Bag for Summer

Earlier this summer, a friend brought a new bag with her to our trip to the zoo that I loved. As anyone addicted to Amazon Prime does, I immediately ordered myself one. Let me introduce you to my new best friend...

Isn't she lovely?
Now I'll let you in on a little secret, it's actually a wet bag for cloth diapering but I have so many other uses for it. It has a larger waterproof compartment and then also a smaller zippered area in the front. When we are heading to the beach or pool I put tissues, Blistex, my ID, etc in the front pocket and then a change of clothes for the kids in the large section. When the kids are done swimming, they change and I put the wet suits in the waterproof section. No more remembering to bring plastic bags or dealing with wet clothes making everything else wet in a bag. Everything in the front compartment stays perfectly dry. The bag is big enough that I can cram a change of clothes for 3 kids and myself (we're talking shorts and t-shirts - not bulky items) in the bag. I then throw that bag in my larger beach bag which has towels, sunblock, etc. I also like that it keeps the change of clothes separate, dry, and not sandy instead of just thrown loose in a big bag. 

Beyond beach/pool days, I also use the bag for snacks and toys on the go. I also like that I can throw water bottles in it on a hot day and not have to worry about them sweating condensation all over my bag.

So there you have it, the hottest fashion accessory of Summer 2015 - a wet cloth diaper bag (what an exciting life I lead!). If you want to grab one for yourself you can check them out on Amazon HERE. Also, if you're not a Prime Member click  HERE to find out about a 30 day free trial.

*Disclaimer: I bought this product, loved it, and am sharing it with you. No compensation was received for this post. 

Friday, July 10, 2015

New Family Photos!

I had been thinking for a while that it was time for us to update our family photos. The last ones we took were four years ago and the kids were basically babies. But like a lot of things, I put it on the back burner. That is until I heard that Faye Joyce Photography was holding mini sessions as a fundraiser to support my friend, Lisa Deck. Supporting local business, helping someone in need, and getting great photos? It was almost too good to be true!

We met Faye one Sunday morning at Borderland State park for a half hour session. About two weeks later, she emailed me a link to all our photos online. I'm in LOVE with them. Makes me wonder why I waited so long. Here are some of my favorites...








So nice, right? If you are local to Foxboro, MA and looking for a photographer you should definitely consider Faye Joyce. You can find her website HERE and her Facebook page HERE.

*Photo Credit For All Photos: Faye Joyce Photography. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Our 4th Recap: Chips and Dip (recipe), 10K, and Fireworks!

On July 3rd, the kids and I were going to head out to watch my husband run a 10K and follow that up with a good old fashioned parking lot tailgate while we waited for fireworks. I figured this was a great opportunity to try out a new dip recipe. I am a die hard sour cream and onion dip fan. It is one of my (many) weaknesses. So when I saw THIS recipe for a healthier version I decided to tweak it a bit based on ingredients I had on hand. Here is the dip I made...

Ingredients:
2 Individual Size (5.3oz) Stonyfield Greek 0% Fat Plain Yogurt Containers
2 Teaspoons Fresh Dill
1/2 Teaspoon of Buttermilk Powder
1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder
1/2 Teaspoon of Salt

Super Simple Steps:

(1) Add all ingredients to one bowl

 
(2) Find a helper to stir it for you (or do it yourself)

 
(3) Refrigerate. You can pretty much serve it immediately but the longer it sits the more the flavors blend.

And that's IT. So easy to make!

Our additional steps from that day:

(4) Cheer on husband as he runs.

(5) Set up tailgate.


(6) Enjoy!
So the dip got 4 out 5 votes of approval from our house. Henry doesn't like sour cream and onion dips so it was not surprising that he didn't like this dip. This was the first time I had used greek yogurt in place of sour cream in cooking though and I will definitely do it again. I honestly wouldn't have known the difference if I hadn't made it myself. It also made me feel so much better about eating way too much of it!

We were also provided with a bag of Late July chips which we enjoyed with the dip. Although I actually enjoyed the chips more just on their own. I think I'd stick with a plain old potato chip (or veggies if that's your thing) with this dip going forward and eat the Late July chips directly from the bag! We ate their standard Sea Salt chip but they have a Bacon Habanero flavor that I want to try. How could anything with the word bacon in it be bad?

As for the Patriot Place fireworks, they received 5 out of 5 votes of approval from our household. Man, were those some good fireworks. They definitely put a lot of time and energy (and money!) into making it a great display. This was our first time watching them and we will definitely head back again next year. Such a fun night!

*Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Stonyfield. As a YoGetter Ambassador, at times I receive free product and/or compensation. As always, all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 6, 2015

4 Tips for Keeping Your Child's Birthday Party Low Stress

With three young children, there is constant talk about birthdays in this household. Our children have July, October, and December birthdays and once one of them is over the next one starts their planning. So that means Daniel, who will be turning 5 in a few weeks, has been planning his party since shortly after Christmas! He's gone back and forth between a local trampoline place, mini golf, and assorted other kid havens. I'll let you in on a little secret though, he's going to have a good old party right in the back yard! That's what summer birthdays are all about, right? 
Daniel celebrating his third birthday - Oh my cuteness!
Parties at home can quickly raise the stress meter to red alert (and break the bank) though if you don't keep things in check. These are my top tips for keeping it simple and low(er) stress:

Choose your guest list wisely - My house is small and I recognize its limitations. Ideally, the kids will spend the day gleefully playing outside in the sun. However, if it rains, I need to make sure I can fit everyone in my house. My good friends? They'll sit in a corner on a hard, wet floor and complain about the weather with me. A mother of a boy from school that I've never met before might not feel the same way about my "cozy" home. Remember, it's all about quality not quantity. You can't invite everyone so don't try.

No need for themes - Choose basic colors for decorations, plates, and napkins. Now admittedly, this one took me a few years to come around to since I know how kids love themes. Standard colors though mean you can reuse any leftovers and use decorations for future parties. Growing up we had one "Happy Birthday" sign that was hung in the kitchen for every single party for every family member and I have nothing but fond memories of it!

Just say no to goody bags - I have rooms full of junk in my house that I'd prefer not to add to. If you feel that you MUST provide something to the attendees then opt for one bigger (but not expensive) item like a ball, water blaster, fairy wings, craft, etc. Seriously though, we are all fine with you providing no take home items at all - for real.

Serve cupcakes and Hoodsies and call it a day - There's no need to serve a meal that most of the kids won't even eat anyway because they're too busy playing. Serve cupcakes (no need to messy a knife with cake!) or better yet one of those cupcake cakes that look like a cake but are actually pull apart cupcakes underneath. Those are a BIG favorite of mine purely for the enormous frosting to cupcake ratio. Then finish up dessert with a Hoodsie. Don't bother with scooping out melting ice cream and having kids pick between flavors. You like chocolate? You like vanilla? Hoodsie's have got you covered. Easy peasy! Also, if you have any leftovers you can sneak them for yourself after the kids go to bed. I always start with one but end up heading back to the freezer for one more!


Looking for more party ideas and tips? Check out Hood's"Best Birthday Ever" Pinterest Board!

*Disclosure:  This post was written in partnership with Hood in which I received compensation for participating in the #TimeForHoodsie campaign. As always, all opinions are my own. I seriously love me some ice cream!

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