Thursday, June 30, 2016

New book and link round up!

Hello! I apologize for the lack of posts this spring and summer. There has been a lot going on. We've been traveling, enjoying the sunshine and I've been busy working on the Bill Riley Talent Search.

I've also been busy setting up media interviews and promoting a book I have been honored to be a part of. It is called "Bill Riley On the Air and at the Iowa State Fair." The book was written by Bill Riley Senior in the last years of his life (he passed away in 2006) and I was asked by the Riley family to get it into book form. It is being released on July 4 and I couldn't be more excited.

The book chronicles the 60-year career of Bill Sr. in newspaper, radio, television and at the Iowa State Fair. There are so many references to Iowa landmarks and icons.

You can buy the book at, Barnes and Noble, Page Turners in Indianola, Plain Talk Books in Des Moines, at select Des Moines area Hy-Vee stores and at five of the Blue Ribbon Foundation souvenir stands at the Iowa State Fair. When you buy the book you will also be supporting a good cause because all the royalties will go to the Bill Riley Talent Search.

I've also had quite a few articles published since my last post so I am going to put a link to them all here in case you are interested in reading any of them.

Taking your kids to their first movie? Here are some tips to make it successful.

See how it went when I spent a month trying to meet new mom friends.

Looking for things to do this summer? Here is a list of 100 things you can do in Iowa. 

Still looking for more to do? Here are some of the most unique parks in Iowa.

Love coffee? Want to buy local? Check out this article about Ross Street Roasting Company. 

Learn about a farm in southern Iowa that is winning awards for its Large Black pigs.

Are you curious about meal delivery services? I tried Blue Apron for a week and this is what happened.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Fairview Lounge

We found a hidden gem for dinner last night. It all started with Yelp. We wanted dinner close to our hotel and preferably local. Fairview Lounge was an option and had five stars. Reviews said it was a gas station and a Peruvian restaurant, and a bar with karaoke and djs. It also said it was not kid friendly but we were going to get there by 6:30 and we figured we could always change our mind later.

We didn't. The moment we walked in we were greeted by Abraham, the owner. We ordered takeout but asked for steamed rice for the kids while we waited. There is an amazing selection of beer and Abraham suggested a Peruvian beer and it was delicious.

The menu is fairly sizable so we asked the waitress what she suggested. We ordered the Lomo Saltado, the most popular menu item, and  the Aji de Gallina. Here are the menu descriptions.

We talked to the owner and his five year old daughter and learned they have been open about a year. His wife is from Peru and does all the cooking, Abraham is from Syria.

Our food was ready quickly and we were sad we ordered takeout.

We couldn't wait to eat and once we got to the hotel we dug in. It was amazing. The steak dish was very good but the Aje de Gallina was by far our favorite. It was creamy, spicy and full of chicken and potatoes. Absolutely delicious.

We can't wait to pass through again just so we can stop and try more of their food.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tea Party!

My little girl is into princesses right now. I had trouble finding ideas that had the right feel for her birthday party so I switched gears a little and decided to use a tea party theme.  

The party was really fun to prep for and relatively easy to put together. 

A few weeks before the party I made these paper flowers. 

We tied them to a string to hang as a banner and the leftovers were placed above the windows in the breakfast nook. 

I had a pink bulletin board and so I printed out a few pictures from the past two years and made a collage. 

We had a tea set from my little sister so I set some of the pieces on the piano.

I wanted the party to have a vintage feel so my mom and I searched thrift stores to find white antique plates with pink flowers. We found quite a few and it was fun to look for them. 

I borrowed some plate stands to use on the table and added some fake pearl strands from my mom. 

I bought two bouquets of pink and white flowers and divided them up between the tables and the drink area. 

For drinks we had tea and pink lemonade.

The food was fun to make. It was pretty low key and half homemade and half purchased. 

I made these pinwheels and a second version with a muffuletta spread and Gruyere. I also made small cucumber sandwiches that were cut into flower shapes. They were made with white bread, cream cheese, fresh dill and cucumber slices. I have this tool from pampered chef that I used to make the flower shapes. 

I also set out strawberry wafer cookies, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries. 

The dessert was a modified version of one of my favorite recipes from my Gramma Verna. I bought pound cake and cut out circles. The middle layer is a mixture of one tub of cool whip, 8 ounces of cream cheese and two tablespoons of powdered sugar. The top is cherry pie filling with a quarter teaspoon of almond extract added to it. 

For favors I gave the boys shields and swords and thanked them for being Claire's knight in shining armor. I gave the girls a crown, boas, princess colors and a coloring book. Most of the favors were from Dollar Tree.

We were planning to have our croquet set out in the back yard but it ended up being a cold day.

This was the easiest birthday party I have thrown for the kids to date. It was so much fun to put together, I hope you find some inspiration for your own tea party! 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Tea Party Prep

I am already starting to plan a tea party for my daughter's 2nd birthday. I have most of the details worked out (menu, decorations, guest list) and am getting excited to see how everything turns out.

One of the things I can do ahead of time is make these paper flowers. I am going to string them together and hang them instead of a banner.
I am using light pink and white tissue paper  to fit with the rest of the decorations. I found a great tutorial online - it has directions to make four different types of flowers. Here's the link.

Time for me to get back to folding and cutting!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Valentine's Day Recap

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great Valentine's Day with the ones you love. We spent most of the day at home except for a quick trip to check out the newest grocery story by our house. It's called Natural Grocers and I was pretty impressed with what they have to offer. They had some great produce (rainbow carrots, daikon radish, purple and cheddar cauliflower and broccolini just to name a few). I was also really happy to see a large selection of natural medicines/remedies for kids.

We made lunch for a friend of ours and it was great. It was Chicken with Tomatoes and Capers from the New York Times. Here is the link.

But, what I really wanted to show you was the craft the kids and I made for John.

These were really easy to make and didn't take too much time (so the kids didn't get bored). The only thing I had to buy were the canvases. I used 8x10s. The other supplies were contact paper, paint and makeup sponges.
I started by cutting two pieces of contact paper to the same size as the canvas. Then I cut out the outline of a heart and placed in on the canvas.

Next I let the kids pick out three paint colors each and put them in muffin liners inside a bowl.

I gave them the makeup sponges and let them cover the whole canvas.
 Here's what they looked like after the painting.

Let them dry then peel off the contact paper. That's it! You could do this with so many different designs. You could do the first letter of their name, different shapes, or different holiday themes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes

Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes has become a staple for my family. I discovered it last year while looking at foodily and I am so glad I stopped to put it on my "to make" list.

Everyone in the family likes this dish and we also like to have the leftovers for breakfast the next day. As you can see, we top the curried ground turkey with potatoes with a fried egg.

It. Is. Delicious.

This is not a spicy curry (unless you want to make it hot) and the curry flavor is not overwhelming, so even if you think you don't like curry I would encourage you to try this dish.

I have adapted this recipe from Simply Recipes.

Curried Ground Turkey with Potatoes.
Adapted from Simply Recipes
3-4 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 pound ground turkey (or substitute ground pork)
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp grated garlic
2 minced garlic cloves
1/2 Tbsp garam masala
1/2 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cup water
2 large pototoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
4 Roma tomatoes, cut into small chunks or 1 can of diced tomatoes (15 oz)
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Once the oil is hot add the ground meat. Break the meat up and cook until it begins to brown.
Add the chopped onion. Stir and cook for 4-5 minutes, until the onion starts cook through.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the grated garlic and ginger and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the garam masala, curry powder, tumeric, cumin, coriander, water and potatoes. Stir to combine then cover with a lid (or a pizza pan if you don't have a lid for your skillet). Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.
Add tomatoes, peas and corn. Cover and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Top each serving with cilantro and a fried egg. This can also be served with bread or rice.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Garlic Cilantro Shrimp

If you are looking for a light, healthy dish to combat all the holiday treats you ate, look no further! Garlic Cilantro Shrimp is easy to throw together, even at the last minute.
I made this for lunch one day when I didn't have any leftovers and not a lot of time.  The kids loved it and ate all the shrimp.

Garlic Cilantro Shrimp

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cloves minced garlic
20 shrimp, peeled and deveined 
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 lemon.
1/4 - 1/2 cup cilantro (depending on how much you like cilantro)
Salt and pepper
1/2 lb spaghetti

Peel and devein the shrimp. Zest the lemon then juice it and set aside. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions. While it is cooking heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot add the shrimp. Cook for one minute then add the garlic. Cook for another two to three minutes until the shrimp is done. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. After it is melted add the chicken stock and add about a tablespoon of lemon juice.

After the pasta is drained add it to the skillet along with the cilantro, a sprinkle of lemon zest and salt and pepper to taste. Toss together and serve immediately.