Cherry Picking (And Homemade Cherry Pop Tarts)

Cherry Picking (And Homemade Cherry Pop Tarts)

My top (J Crew, old – similar here, here, here, here) // Jeans // Sandals // Necklace // Lip gloss // Evan’s shirt (Gap, similar) // Cole’s shirt

Friday was an unusually cool summer day here in Boise (our high was mid 60s!), which I thought would be perfect weather for spending the afternoon at the orchard picking cherries! We always have an absolute blast going out to the country for a few hours and enjoying the tranquility – and my kids love getting to feel like little farmers for the day!

What is almost as fun as picking the cherries is eating them once we get home – and making delicious treats! I thought it would be really fun to make some homemade pop tarts with our harvest and found this recipe which I modified with just a few little tweaks. I’m not gonna lie…these are labor intensive and take a long time to make! (Next time I would make the crust and filling at night & refrigerate overnight, then assemble & bake in the morning). That said my husband said these are one of the best treats I’ve ever made!

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HOMEMADE CHERRY POP TARTS

Ingredients

Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced and frozen
  • 1/2 cup ice water

Filling:

  • 4 cups fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons cold water

Assembly:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • Pink food coloring
  • Sprinkles

Instructions

Make the dough:

  • In food processor, mix flour, salt, and sugar together by pulsing a few times. Add the frozen diced butter & pulse until coarse crumbs form. Set the food processor to low and add the water in small amounts at a time until dough comes together. Do not over-work the dough (you want to see bits of butter within the dough). Wrap the ball of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour to overnight.

Make the filling:

  • In a small saucepan, stir together the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the cherries are soft and bubbly. Lower heat. Whisk together the cornstarch and water, and stir into the cherry, stirring constantly and slightly mashing cherries with spatula or wooden spoon, until a thick jam forms. Remove from the heat, transfer to a bowl, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to cool.

Assemble:

  • On a lightly floured surface, roll dough with a rolling pin into a large rectangle, about 1/4 inch thick. Use a pizza cutter or sharp knife to cut the dough into 3×4 inch rectangles. This should make a total of about 20 rectangles. Place 10 rectangles on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Whisk the egg and water together, then lightly brush the edges of the dough on the 10 rectangles. Place 2 tablespoons of cherry filling in the center of each rectangle. Lay another rectangle on top, pressing the edges with your fingers and then crimping with a fork. Continue with remaining pop tarts. Refrigerate for 20 minutes, along with the remaining egg wash.
  • While the pop tarts chill, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F with rack placed in the center of the oven.
  • When the pop tarts are ready to bake, lightly brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Use a fork or skewer to poke small holes on the top of the dough to allow the steam to escape. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool before glazing.

Make the glaze:

  • In a bowl whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Add a drop or two of pink food coloring. Drizzle over cooled pop tarts and top with sprinkles.

*Note – I use this cherry pitter and I highly recommend it!

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Everything You Need For The Ultimate Pool Day

Everything You Need For The Ultimate Pool Day

We spend a lot of time at the pool in the summer. My kids are absolute fish and between hitting up the neighborhood pool with friends, weekly swim lessons, and going to the local water park – we typically spend 4-5 days a week at the pool in the summer months! Today I wanted to share what we pack along in our beach bags in order to have the ultimate pool day!

My swimsuit // Similar beach skirt // My hat // Sunglasses // Cole’s swimsuit // Evan’s swimsuit (similar)

FOR MOM

Beach bag I am a huge fan of Mar y Sol beach bags – they are so roomy and are stylish enough to carry beyond the pool.

Wet swimsuit bag I always have a few wet swimsuit bags stashed in my beach bag and this jelly one is so cute.

Waterproof phone lanyard I have been that mom who has dropped my phone in the water before, so this is an essential.

Hat I’ve been all about the visor this summer since it allows me to put my hair up in a messy bun while still wearing my hat.

Towels This multi-pack of plush chic looking towels is a great essential.

Sunscreen I love spray sunscreens for their ease of application (and re-application!). I also always look for a sunscreen with 50 SPF.

 

FOR KIDS

Goggles I always have multiple pairs stashed in my beach bag. These also have UV protection.

Water shoes The bottoms of pools can be rough and sore toes at the end of a day aren’t fun for the little ones. Water shoes are also great for protecting little feet from the hot concrete when getting in and out.

Water guns As a mom of boys, we pretty much can’t leave for the pool unless we are armed with water guns.

Water toys This kit has tons of toys to keep your kids occupied for hours.

Puddle Jumper Life Vest While my little one is in regular swim lessons, he still isn’t fully swimming yet. These floaties were recommended by Cole’s swim instructor when he was little, as she said they still help facilitate swimming.

Inflatable This inflatable will definitely make you the coolest kid at the pool.

Kid Towels Of course the kids can use just a regular old towel, but these personalized towels are a lot of fun!

Pool Games Book Keep giving them new fun game ideas all summer long.

 

FOR BREAKS

Water bottles Its so important to make sure kids stay hydrated, so we always pack along water bottles.

Cooler After an hour or two of swimming my kids are always starving, so I make sure to pack along a cooler with some snacks!

Speaker I bought my husband this wireless, waterproof bluetooth speaker, and it is great for packing along to the pool.

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Keeping Kids Minds Engaged During The Summer

Keeping Kids Minds Engaged During The Summer

I do feel very strongly that kids should have a lot of unscheduled fun over summer break and days filled with swimming, picnics, playdates, and popsicles. Our family (like most!) is heavily scheduled throughout the school year with school commitments and extra curriculars, and the kids need some time to rest and relax! However, academic regression over the summer months is a real concern – in fact, studies have shown that kids achievement scores decline over summer vacation by one month’s worth of school-year learning. While I do allow my kids a lot of unstructured, fun time – I do have a few summer rules at our house to make sure that we are still making time for some educational activities every day.

My biggest rule is – the kids are required to read for a minimum of 20 minutes a day. Typically we will sit down together at night and read as a family – and it is something the kids really look forward to (and most nights we read well beyond our minimum time)! Video games are restricted to Friday-Sunday all year, and we continue this during the summer months. We also take advantage of numerous library programs offered over the summer (the kids just finished their first reading challenge and already each earned a free book!), and I typically will buy the kids inexpensive toys/games that have some educational value as I see things throughout the year to give them over the summer months. (I also try to think ahead at holidays like Easter & Christmas for gifting things they can play with over summer!). We also visit our local zoo and Discovery Center several times over the summer, and am also thinking about looking into the Art Museum for kids’ activities as well. In today’s post, I wanted to share some great games and activities for fun learning at home this summer!

 

GAMES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY

FamilyGamesBattleship // Hi Ho! Cherry-O // Spot It! // Chickapig  // Zingo

My older kiddo (he’s eight!) loves playing Battleship with his dad. This game is great for critical thinking as well as some math skills (like axis awareness). Hi-Ho! Cherry-O is a great game for younger kids teaching them basic math skills like counting, addition, and subtraction. Spot It! is a great game you can take anywhere with you, and develops focus, visual perception skills, speech-language skills, and fine motor skills. Chickapig is an award winning game for ages 8 and up. The game takes a bit longer to play, but it is simple to learn while still being highly engaging, competitive, and teaches strategy! Zingo is another award winning game which is great for teaching pre-reading skills.

 

GET OUTSIDE

OutdoorEducatinalBug Catching Explorer Kit // Go Find It Scavenger Hunt // Telescope

You certainly don’t need to spend any money to simply get kids outside and observing nature. That said, having a fun exploration kit can help kids connect with their inner explorer and encourage them to find bugs, learn direction with a compass, and look for all kinds of critters with binoculars! I love the simplicity of this scavenger hunt which makes it perfect for even little explorers. And if you weren’t already aware – June is a great month for stargazing! Jupiter is visible to the naked eye (it’s located right by the moon!) this month. We went stargazing the other night and with our small telescope, we were even able to see Jupiter’s 4 largest moons! I also highly recommend the SkyView app for finding constellations and planets (it is so cool!). Boise also has a few great (and free!) outdoor educational opportunities like the MK Nature Center and the Oregon Trail walks.

 

STEM

STEMtoysGemstone Dig Kit // Snap Electric Circuit // Magnatiles // Legos // Osmo

For Easter Cole was given a similar gemstone dig kit and he had an absolute blast excavating and learning about the types of stones! He was also gifted a similar, smaller snap electric circuit to this one, and it is a super fun and educational toy (this one above was a toy of the year nominee!). Both of my kids absolutely LOVE playing with magnatiles. This is one of their favorite toys that they both reach for over and over. Legos are always another favorite option, and they can spend hours coming up with their own creations! And if I’m going to allow my kids iPads during the week – it must be for something educational. Osmo has been a huge hit in our house for several years now!

 

ART

KidsArtEasel // Artist Kit // Illustory Book Writing Kit // Camera

Both of my kids really love to draw, and it’s something they do nearly every day. My younger one has fun using the easel, while my big one uses an art set that has everything a budding artist needs! My older one also likes writing and illustrating his own short stories and comic strips, so I am loving this kit which also includes printing and delivery of their very own book! Both of my kids always have fun taking photos with the iPad, and I think upgrading them an actual camera they can pack around with them this summer would be a lot of fun for them.

 

SENSORY

SensoryToys.jpgSlime // Play-Doh // Water Beads // Water Table

My kids love slime. As in they are literally entertained by it for hours. Play-doh is also a lot of fun, especially a kit like this that includes cutters. These water beads look so cool and have a ton of different educational activities you can do with them (sensory, sorting, counting, colors, hand/eye coordination) and there is even a fun gun you can buy to shoot them (if you have boys you know how guns make everything more fun)! My little one has a water table at his preschool, and it is his absolute favorite thing to play with on the playground! We have an old one that has seen better days, and I’ve been eyeing buying this one.

 

LETTERS & NUMBERS

LettersNumbersMath Facts Wrap Ups // Alphabet Chalkboard // Dog Man // Don’t Push The Button

Cole’s teacher this past year was really big on the kids learning their math facts very early on in the year. We are now working on multiplication and division facts at home to give Cole a little head start for 3rd grade! Early reading activities are something we are working on with Evan this summer, and we just recently purchased this chalkboard we can take with us to practice writing and simple word recognition. And of course lots of reading for everyone and these books are a few favorites we’ve been reading on repeat!

 

IMAGINATIVE

ImaginativeToysDress Up Kit // Grocery Store // Kitchen // Tool Set

Giving kids time and opportunity for imaginative play is so important! I love seeing my kids using their imaginations and coming up with games! My little one absolutely loves playing dress up, shopkeeper, play (or real!) cooking, and he has this exact tool set and is completely obsessed with it.

Here’s to a fun and educational summer!Signature

Father’s Day Gift Idea: Hand-painted Flower Pots

Father’s Day Gift Idea: Hand-painted Flower Pots

Father’s Day is just a few days away and if you are still in need of an idea, I wanted to share the gift the kids and I came up with this year! We are really big on doing thoughtful, homemade gifts for Father’s Day, and the kids absolutely love presenting a gift that they have made themselves! My husband is big into gardening and plants, so I thought this year creating painted planters filled with flowers for our patio would be a lot of fun – and something my husband would really appreciate.

 

SUPPLIES

Terra Cotta Pot

Spray paint

Acrylic paint

Brushes

Drop cloth

Clear coat

Potting soil

Flowers of choosing

 

DIRECTIONS

Place drop cloth down to protect area (be sure you are working in a well ventilated space or outside!) and spray pots evenly until they are covered with base color of choosing. Allow to dry.

Once dried, paint your designs with colored acrylic paints and allow to dry.

Once dried, spray protective clear coat over the entire pot (inside & out) to seal, and allow to dry.

Fill with potting soil & plant flowers!

 

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The kids and I also put together this fun lottery card “bouquet” to gift dad as well!

Each of the kids also filled out a questionnaire “Fun Facts About Dad” that I printed on cardstock to present to dad on Father’s Day, along with cards and we will be making his favorite homemade breakfast!

Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there!

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Summer Camping Trip at Redfish Lake

Summer Camping Trip at Redfish Lake

Today’s post is a very photo heavy one with lots of photos of the camping trip we took last week! Several months ago we reserved a campsite at Glacier View Campground at Redfish Lake just outside Stanley Idaho (a few hours from Boise). We had some friends join us, and the kids really had the time of their lives building forts, playing at the lake, roasting marshmallows, and staying up late to make wishes on shooting stars! I confess, although I love nature and being outside, I’m not really much of a camper. But I did love seeing how much fun the kids had and camping really is such a terrific experience for them. The campsite was really nice and clean with actual toilets (a real luxury when camping!) and they also had playgrounds for the kids. It was also walking distance to the Redfish Lake Lodge which was darling (I would love to stay there one day!) and they had tons of water activities to take advantage of. We also had lunch and ice cream at the lakeside restaurant one day, which was a real treat after several days of cooking at the campsite. I still can’t get over the beauty of Redfish Lake and the Sawtooth Mountains – it is truly an incredibly stunning place. We even had a group of deer come visit us at our site one night (and the camp hosts let us know to be cautious as bears had been sighted recently!).

The kids had so much fun, and they are already asking when we can go on our next camping trip! Being prepared and having good gear also made a big difference in making the camping trip a lot more enjoyable, and I wanted to share my gear recommendations and camping tips!

CAMPING GEAR RECOMMENDATIONS

Utensils // Stove // Tent

Roasting forks // Over fire grill // Air mattress

Cast iron cookware // Lantern // Percolator // Water Jug (perfect for a handwashing station)

CAMPING TIPS

  • Prep all food beforehand! I had burger patties formed & frozen with wax paper between them, pancake mix prepared and frozen, and also made an overnight breakfast casserole that was ready to throw on the stove the next morning! Having everything prepped ahead of time saves a lot of time and makes things a lot more simple.
  • Use disposable dishes. Yes I know it’s not the most eco friendly, but it sure is a lot easier to use as many disposable things as possible.
  • Bring bug spray and sunscreen. You definitely get exposed to the elements, and you are going to need these!
  • Make a foot washing station to keep the tent clean. I placed a door mat placed by the door of the tent and we made the kids take their shoes off before going in. I also had a plastic pan of water by the tent door to rinse off feet that were really dirty.
  • Rinse free bathing options. I packed along rinse free shampoo and lots of baby wipes to clean off a bit in-between showers.
  • Be prepared for temperature extremes. The temperature swings were pretty wild on our trip. The days were really hot (we wore tanks and shorts), but at night it got down into the low 30s. We were prepared with really warm sleepwear, as well as warm sleeping bags, multiple blankets, winter coats, and wool socks.
  • Bring first aid supplies. The mosquitos would often come out earlier than expected, and we would get a few bites before getting bug spray on. And despite being vigilant, Evan leaned up against the fire pit and got a small burn to his leg. I made sure to have lots of skin ointments as well as Tylenol, Motrin, and Benadryl.
  • Pack toys and camp decorations to keep kids busy. While I was busy cooking, I had several activities to keep the kids away from the fire and busy. We had balls, frisbees, sand toys, bubbles, bug catching kits, and glow sticks. I also brought along some solar lights and tasked the kids with making our campsite “homey.” They also were given camp chores to keep busy helping out as well!

Happy camping!

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Summer Getaway in Sun Valley

Summer Getaway in Sun Valley

My Trench (Burberry – old, similar) // Top (H&M – similar) // Jeans // Belt // Boots // Necklace // Sunglasses // Bag

Last week we decided to take a quick vacation to Sun Valley for a few days! It is one of our favorite places to visit and we are so fortunate that it’s so close! (And it is truly my dream to live there one day). The weather is typically quite warm this time of year here in Idaho, but we have been experiencing a lot of cooler weather and rain over the past month. It was a lot cooler & stormier than we had planned when we booked our trip, but we still had fun and were able to enjoy spending some time outside.

Once we made it to town we went for a quick stroll and then out to dinner at our favorite place in town – Pioneer Saloon. It really is a must if you ever visit Sun Valley! The food is amazing and the ambiance is classic Sun Valley.

After dinner we went for an evening swim! Although it was cool, the hotel pool is heated so the kids were able to swim to their hearts content. When visiting we almost always stay at the Limelight. It is such a fantastic hotel in a great location in town, and it is very family friendly.

We had the most incredible mountain views from our room.

After breakfast the next morning we spent some time playing in the kids playroom! We really feel like the Limelight is our home away from home – and the kids even like to wear their pajamas down the the buffet breakfast and to play! This kids room is one of our favorite features of the hotel, and we always spent a fair amount of time playing!

After breakfast we walked over to Atkinson Park where the kids played for hours. We love this park and always come to play when we visit in the summer! It’s such a big park with a great playground – and the kids can literally spend all day there. They even have a splash pad for hot days!

We finally pried them away from the park with a promise to visit their favorite toy store (aptly named The Toy Store) and grab a late lunch. I have to admit – it really is a great toy store with some really unique toys. (They have another location at the Sun Valley resort as well which we visited on this trip too!)

While Sun Valley is known for skiing, there is quite a bit to do in the summer months. You can ride the lift up Baldy and hike, you can rent bikes from the hotel (or at other rental shops in town), you can ice skate, and a bit later in the summer they even have ice skating performances by Olympic skaters! I’m had hoped to perhaps go hiking or ice skating on this trip – but the weather was stormy off and on so we decided to head to the pool again in the afternoon while it rained. The hotel even provides kids robes – which of course the kids absolutely loved!

For dinner we headed to an Idaho favorite – Smoky Mountain pizza! They have a location in Boise we eat at frequently and it is a favorite of my kids. Evan especially loves to make his own pizza!

On our last day we headed out to the Sun Valley resort for a bit of shopping and just walking around the grounds.

My Shirt (Kobi Halperin, old – similar style) // Jeans // Boots // Sunglasses

One last game of tic tac toe at the hotel!

No trip to Sun Valley is complete without a stop at Gold Mine Thrift Shop. This shop is legendary for finding incredible fashion steals – and while 9 times out of 10 I don’t get lucky…this time I hit the jackpot! Digging through the racks I found a vintage St John jacket for $7! And I also found a beautiful Waterford crystal vase. While checking out, the cashier whispered to me that I needed to run over to The Gold Mine Consignment store across the street because she had just bought a Chanel jacket there – and they had tons of other amazing goodies! I ended up snagging a tweed, jewel trimmed Escada skirt suit as well as a Burberry tweed coat.

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Life Lately

Life Lately

This past week and a half has really been crazy. So much seems to happen the last week of school, and we really haven’t slowed down since school got out. I’m kind of ready for a few lazy days to be honest! Today I’m sharing what we’ve been up to since Cole’s last day of school!

I’ve been eyeing these sandals for awhile and they finally went on sale so I snapped them up! We have still been having some chilly days recently, so I paired them with jeans & a sweater, but can’t wait to wear them with a cute dress this summer!

Sweater (Topshop, similar) // Jeans // Sandals // Headband

While I shared about Evan’s last day of school, I didn’t share about Cole’s yet! For Cole’s last day of school a few moms and I organized a simple picnic on the playground for his 2nd grade class.

We’ve had play dates with old friends and also made some new friends in the neighborhood! We also made sure to check out The STIL’s new Boise location at their pop up ice cream stand!

We went and saw the new Aladdin movie as well and I was surprised at how much we all enjoyed it!

For Memorial Day we had planned on going swimming with friends – but the weather was pretty crummy so we ended up having a very low key BBQ at home. I did make these amazing Skinny Cheesecake Cupcakes and I highly recommend them! The whole family enjoyed them & they are under 100 calories apiece. They would be perfect for a 4th of July BBQ or picnic!

Skinny Cheesecake Cupcakes

We decided to get away for a few days and spent a few nights up at Sun Valley which I’m going to share a bit more about in another post! It truly is one of my favorite places, and although we didn’t get to do everything I wanted as the weather has continued to be uncooperative, it was still nice getting away for a few days. And with the heated pool the kids were able to swim to their hearts content!

We also had our annual family photographs taken this past weekend! We have never done a spring shoot so I decided that’s what I wanted this year. We had to reschedule multiple times due to crazy weather, but the wait was worth it and we were able to shoot on a beautiful morning in a beautiful setting! Here’s a little outtake of these silly boys at the end of our session – and I’m already so excited to get our photos back!

Cole’s Shirt // Shorts // Flip flops  —  Evan’s Shirt // Shorts (Gymbroee, similar) // Flip flops

Our local library always has incredible summer programs, and we went to their summer reading kick off party which also had a “Dino dig/fossil making” over the weekend as well. We even ended up randomly running into some of Cole’s friends from school which made it even more fun! The kids each chose a reading challenge to complete over the summer, and if they complete just 5 items on their list they each get a free book! We checked out a number of books to get started on their challenge, and are looking forward to taking advantage of their other wonderful classes over the summer.

I wore this casual outfit to the library party – and this little skirt is actually a skort! I’m a huge fan of this style as a mom – cute, comfortable and I can easily play with/chase after the kids in it!

Tee // Skort // Flip flops // Bag // Sunglasses // Necklace

I also recently grabbed this cute jumpsuit which looks so much more expensive than it is!

Jumpsuit // Shoes (Joie – old, similar style also here) // Bag

We are getting ready to head off on another quick summer adventure this week so I’m off to pack and get prepared! Happy Tuesday!Signature