Monday, April 27, 2015

Smiling Tree Home giveaway - Something for mom!

Welcome to the Something Special for Mom Giveaway Hop hosted by the Lindsey Blogs and Viva Veltoro. Mother’s Day will be here before you know it, which is why a group of fabulous bloggers have come together to share gifts and giveaways that are perfect for the special lady in your life - or maybe even yourself! Be sure to hop around to them all, including the TWO Grand Prizes. Viva Veltoro has an amazing gift package for one beautiful Mom featuring products from Cake Maternity, Chewbeads, and Poncho Baby and on Lindsey Blogs you'll find Gift Cards for Jamberry Nails and aka originals hand stamped jewelry.

I'm in home-nesting-mode. The almost 2 years of living in a renovation has begun to wear on me and I would love to turn this somewhat construction zone into a homey space. Is it counter productive? Sure. Does it make me happy? Yes. So here we go.

Obviously hanging pictures is not in the cards for each room or even every wall because moulding needs to be installed here, or we have plans for that weird space over there. So I pick and choose, but this summer my interior goals are to hang curtains in the family room and kitchen, as well as make the kitchen a more welcoming space. 

My favorite pop of personality is to have truly personal items that have a use. A few months ago my MOPS group coordinated a craft where we etched our last names into a pyrex dish. Perfect! It can beautifully display my homemade lasagna or be an easy way to know where a borrowed dish should return to. 

So today I'm going to share with you the fabulous Smiling Tree Home line, which offers customized wood decor, kitchen utensils and toys! You'll be familiar with them if you've seen my reviews on their custom wood Christmas ornaments. I was so excited when I got my hands on their customized wooden bar board, which is perfect for all kinds of presentation.

Isn't it lovely? I can mix it up by placing my favorite soy candle or a few little treats when guests come over.

In addition to these bar boards, Smiling Tree Home has customized wooden spoons, larger cutting boards, wall hangings and of course, their beautiful wooden children's toys.

handcrafted. natural. heirloom.

Enter to win your own customized mini bar board!

Disclosure: I received product in exchange for my honest review. The Pierogie Mama, So Easy Being Green, Viva Veltoro, and the Something Special for Mom participating bloggers are not responsible for sponsors who do not fulfill prize obligations.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Getting a full serving of veggies while having fun!

This post was sponsored by Happy Family brands. All opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago we scored an awesome deal on a Burley double bike trailer and I've made it part of our morning routine to head out for a bike ride after breakfast.

Let me be honest for a minute - yes, the bike ride is primarily a way for me to get some daily exercise in. Our house isn't set up very well for me to do a workout video during naps and I'm just not a gym person anymore. But, over the last year I've been inspired by my blogging-gal-pal to workout with both kids so the bike is where we're at right now.

But most importantly, and this is probably the clearest picture that I can paint of my season in life, this daily bike ride is my best guarantee for 20-45 minutes of peace and cooperation between the girls. That's not to say that it's the only 20-45 minutes I get each day, because I'd say that 60% of the time everyone gets along. But it's the 40% of not getting along that wears on me. So I'll do just about anything for that state of mind, and yes that even includes exercising! Gasp!

What are the key components to this peace and quiet that I'm able to achieve with fairly good consistency?

Just in case gazing out into the wide, wide world isn't enthralling enough, I like to pack books or their favorite dollies into the trailer with them. Two sets of each, of course, so there aren't any squabbles. Ruby gets her favorite board books and Penny packs her princess stories. Each girl gets her sister-appropriate Frozen princess and queen.

Snacking on the go is also a peace keeper for my family. Mess free and safe snacks are especially important in the bike trailer, where I don't have immediate access to clean up a mess or heaven forbid aid in a choking emergency. So I'll pack reusable cloth baggies filled with snacks that both Penny and Ruby can share - pretzels, popcorn, apple slices, yogurt dots, as well as our very favorite food pouches - Happy Family brand, of course! And because of a recent bought of pickiness from both girls, I've been sneaking their veggies into their diet by way of the Love My Veggies line. We chose these pouches because they are the first toddler pouch to contain one full serving of vegetables* (*one serving of vegetables is 1/4 cup). Love My Veggies pouches are available in three varieties: banana, beet, squash & blueberry; carrot, banana, mango & sweet potato; spinach, apple, sweet potato & kiwi. Because my kids are already familiar with on the go pouches, it's easy to get them to slurp these down without any convincing.

Chatter & Interaction
Our typical bike route follows the neighborhood bike/walk trail, which is along a dike. A stream flows along with us and in the early morning we see ducks, frogs, beautiful spring flowers and even a heron the other day. While I pull everyone along, I point out different things we see so that the girls are paying attention to the outside world (and not only absorbed in their books or snacks). This is how Penny learned about stop signs, stop lights, left and right turns, and of course - where along our route we can spy mama's favorite flowers (lilacs).

For the month of April I took the #lovemyveggies challenge for myself and my kids - and we've incorporated more vegetables into each of our meals (whether they can see them or not!).

You can find 4-packs of 22 oz. Love My Veggies pouches at Target for $5.89.
Want a chance to try the new Happy Family Love My Veggies Pouches? Enter to win a fun prize pack below!

Disclosure: The Pierogie Mama received product in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. See giveaway details for full rules. The Pierogie Mama is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monroe Christian School's Touch a Truck Event!

Here's another local-to-me event that I'm super excited to share about! If you are in the Seattle / North Sound area, check this out.

Monroe Christian School is hosting their annual Touch A Truck event in Monroe, WA. You'll find a wide range of vehicles as well as other family fun. 

You'll find everything from Kenworth semi trucks, SWAT and K9 units, milk trucks, fire trucks, tractors, double decker busses, an ice cream truck, the pace car for Evergreen Speedway, excavating equipment, and the pretty awesome HAWK-YEA bus!

My husband doesn't often ask for shoutouts on the blog, but if you visit the green Kenworth Truck (pictured above), he'll be there to teach you all about Kenworth's state of the art natural gas technology! Feel free to be a little starstruck. ;)

This is also a new announcement.. BLITZ (as in, THE Blitz) from the Seattle Seahawks will be there too!

They'll have pony rides, Webbly, the Aquasox Mascot, balloon animals, caricatures, The Reptile Man, juggling acts. There will be a toddler activity area with bubbles, side walk chalk, coloring, story time, and music. Dante's Inferno will be serving  up 7 kinds of hot dogs and sausages, chips and drinks. Grab some ice cream from Moonie Icy Tunes Ice Cream truck and coffee from Sharinabeans Espresso.

May 30, 2015 10:00a - 3:00p
Horn free hour from 10:00 - 11:00

I've partnered with MCS Touch a Truck to giveaway 2 family passes for the 2015 event! Each pass is good for 8 people (under 2 years old is free). Check out the giveaway widget below to enter.

Buy a family pass and get $5 off the family pass
use promocode PIEROGIE. 
Connect with MCS Touch A Truck 

Disclosure: Thank you MCS Touch a Truck for sending my family to Touch a Truck 2015! We had a blast last year and can't wait to see all the new fun in store. All opinions are my own. 
See giveaway details for full rules.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Using fictional characters to help with parenting

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Weave Made Media® and DreamWorks, but all my opinions are my own. #weavemade #VeggieTalesfun 

As parents we all strive for the same goal with our children - to raise healthy, smart people who get along well with others. A big part of that is the role of the parent and what we model for our kids; which comes from our backgrounds, education and experiences.

I stay at home with my girls and I've fully embraced that I need to learn along with my kids sometimes. Typically I trust my my gut feeling on how to approach a situations or how to model an experience. But I also don't have a whole lot of experience in working with children outside of my own, so I am always on the lookout for great resources to help me.

An example;

Last week, Penny, now 3, was in a full blown toddler tornado of excitement. It was Wednesday and every week we go to our library for toddler story time. We've been going for a couple years and her cousin Jett and auntie come along too. We've developed friendships with other regulars too, so it's just a huge play date full of reading, dancing, singing and fun. There's a mix of quiet listening to the book being read out loud with wiggle breaks. On this particular morning Penny was buzzing around and just not in the mood to sit to listen to the story.

This is totally normal toddler behavior, but I couldn't help but feel a little anxious. Was she disruptive enough that I should pull her aside, or just go with the flow and let her get the wiggles out. Every other parent there had gone through what I was, so I wasn't feeling like I was a "problem parent." Nonetheless, we also want to be respectful of others. So after I decided that Penny's energy wasn't going to be spent anytime soon, I quietly pulled her aside, held her close and reminded her about the episode on Daniel Tiger that we had watched not too long ago:

Give a squeeze, nice and slow, take a deep breath...and let it go.

Cute, catchy songs seem to be what resonate with Penny at the moment. It was easy to pull out the song to help calm her down at the library, and it worked after a couple times. She loosened up and brought it down a notch.  And that's our life these days. Because she doesn't always listen to what mama thinks she should do or say, but somehow her "friends" (characters in books and tv shows) can. Various princesses, Daniel Tiger, the siblings of Dinosaur Train and the cornucopia of produce from VeggieTales is what guides so many of our practical lessons in this season of life. And let me tell you, these characters were carefully weeded out after the trial and error of that certain monkey and whiny 4 year old that I am 100% convinced teach my toddler all those behaviors that I have been trying to avoid!

VeggieTales is another great show that I've been excited to have her grow into. I've been familiar with the characters and songs from the time that my now 8 year old niece was a little girl, so I've had my fair share of Larry and and Bob. My sister-in-law sends me periodic texts about her "Usta!" which is the Polish word for lips. We used to sing that song to little Pammy all the time.

While "I love my lips" doesn't really teach any deep lessons, (it's just hilarious) VeggieTales is a wonderful faith based show that teaches children valuable lessons and brings the Bible to life for them. We have several children's bibles, but what seems to be the case with most kids these days is that they need something tangible along with it. VeggieTales, our Little People Nativity set and a mix of arts and crafts are some of the tools that I use to teach some of those lessons that are a little harder for a toddler to grasp simply from a story.

I was really excited when I learned that VeggieTales had released a line of plush toys, because this again would serve as an additional reminder when she and I talk. Plus, it's really cute to hear her little toddler voice when she has these deep conversations with "Waw-ry." :) This is the little pow-wow that I came upon after bed time - what lessons was Larry teaching tonight?

You can now find Larry and friends at Walmart.

How do you use fictional characters to help guide
 your children in new experiences or making correct choices?

Friday, April 17, 2015

Catch the moment: Week 14

Catch the Moment 365
A picture a day, for one year.

oh my gosh you guys, I totally messed up the numbers on this week. Oh well. 

Thunder Chicken is one of our favorite stuffed animals. But here's the question that plagues all chicken owners.. hen or roo? 

 There's a beautiful tree on our daily walk that blooms strange purple flowers. Penny asks to pick one each time, and this time we discovered her favorite creature inside.

 My husband loves old BMWs, and our "new" addition is apparently very special. We got together with other local e9 owners for a meet up and a drive. The owners hashed over where to get the parts for this 44 year old car and compared the unique features between these handmade cars.
 It's partly intimidating, partly really awesome to drive the e9! It's like taking a step back into history.

 We had our two favorite besties over for a playdate while their mama interviewed. I couldn't get over the adorableness of a 4 year old, 3 year old, almost 2 year old and 1 year old playing together.

 I shopped at the Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe Spring sale and saved over $160!!
Poor Wooby. She took a huge chomp of a popsicle and really wasn't prepared for the result. 

Follow along on Instagram daily!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Just Between Friends of Everett/Monroe Spring 2015 - What You'll Find

I'm kind of on a high today because I feel like I was so productive! The past two weeks I've been preparing for the JBF Everett/Monroe Spring Consignment Sale. In the past I've been primarily a shopper, so I'd be doing the pee-pee dance waiting for the sale to start. Now I've added the title of consignor under my belt so I get to start my JBF excitement early because I get to prep, tag and drop off my bins of clothes before I shop.

Oh wait, I got ahead of myself.

Just Between Friends. JBF. Awesomeness. It's a huge consignment sale for baby, kid and mama that takes place all under one roof. There's tons of nation wide locations, but today I'm going to share with you about what I found at my local sale - JBF Everett /Monroe at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA.

This is the 5th time that I've shopped at this sale and I have to say that each time it gets better and better. The consignor base is growing for each sale so there are more items and a greater variation. I've found a great range in clothing brands and a mix of the currently popular toys as well as throwbacks to stuff from a few years ago (or even from my own childhood!).

Each time I shop at these events I like to share what I saw and what I purchased so that you can have an idea of what you might be able to find.

 Hatley is my favorite brand for rain jackets!
 Rapunzel's tower
 Lots of cloth diapers at this sale!
 This was the best deal on the babywearing gear that I found. Retail is about $120.

 Every once in a while you'll find items in their original packaging too.
This. Dress. Seriously. It's very pretty and all, but Petite Penny decided that she absolutely needed it, and it's totally a big girl's 8/10. Anywho, we had a whole meltdown over this dress and finally she found a different dress that she likes (and dumped this one like a rag), so overall I'm happy. But all that goes to say is that it's a well made Disney World brand dress and it will make another little girl really happy. :)

So here's what I got today -
Gotta say, pretty proud of myself! 
What will you find at the JBF Everett/Monroe spring sale?

Don't wait, this public sale starts tomorrow so get on over!

Thursday April 16 11a - 7p

Friday April 17 10a - 6p
Saturday April 18 9a - 5p / 
learn more about getting to shop early for half price items!

Sunday April 19 8a - 1p

See the full sale schedule here

Disclosure: This post was sponsored by JBF Everett/Monroe. All opinions are my own.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Catch the Moment: Week 13

Catch the Moment 365
A picture a day, for one year.

 Our local craft store brings in bunnies for the kids to take pictures with for Easter. All proceeds to to the Behind the Badge Foundation too! How awesome. They had about a dozen bunnies to choose from, and all were so sweet and docile. Penny wanted the "small baby bunny with pink eyes."

 The big girl got her face painted for the first time. A year ago, there was no way she was letting a stranger touch her face. I am so proud of her bravery. And she is so stinkin cute!

 Penny and daddy made Frozen Easter Eggs. Frozen as in the movie, not literally frozen.

 I snagged an awesome deal of 40 pounds for $18 of Golden Delicious apples, straight from the grower. Wow! Well, this meant a week of apple inspired meals.. but I am not complaining! Here's two: Crockpot Applesauce and Polish Apple Pancakes.
 I sneak my snacks in the kitchen when I think the kids aren't paying attention. This time I was discovered. I ended up being nice and sharing my goat cheese, fig-orange jam and poppyseed crackers with this pitiful face.
 My parents separated and divorced over the course of my teens. I don't have many stories that tell about their love, but on the morning of my 16th birthday I visited my dad and he told me one of the sweetest stories I've ever heard. After my birth my dad picked a gorgeous bunch of lilacs for my mom to fill her room with their beautiful fragrance. On that day, he decided that he would do the same for me when I turned 16. Last year my husband planted a lilac bush in our front yard for my Mother's Day gift too.
Another counter top treat discovered. This was our third apple treat of the week, Polish Apple Cake (jablecznik). My mom makes it the best, but she was nice enough to freeze some dough for another time and left it in my freezer. This week I've been missing her and it was a perfect pick me up. My version doesn't really stand up to hers, but it was a good shot.

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Polish Apple Pancakes

Taste has such a connection with memory, don't you think? These pancakes bring back so many memories, but my favorite is of visiting my paternal babcia in Poland and her cooking these delights for my dad and I on the night that we arrived. I was about ten years old; tired, grumpy and overwhelmed. We were ushered in, sat at a plain and simple table in her small apartment's kitchen, and she continued to fry these babies up.

They are called "racuchy" (rah-tsoo-hiy) or "placki z jablkami" (pancakes with apples / "plah-ts-key z yab-kahm-eh").

These days I pull it out on those evenings where "breakfast for dinner" is on the menu again or if I have extra apples that should get used. They're like a mix between a pancake, fritters, dutch baby, beignet and a donut. There's just no one way to describe them! But they are super easy to make, use readily available ingredients and are so tasty. Even though they are essentially deep fried, they don't come out greasy.

You'll need:
2-3 apples (peeled, cored and sliced thinly)
2 cups of flour
1 egg
1 cup of milk
1 tsp sugar
vegetable oil
powdered sugar

You'll do:
1. Mix together the 2 cups of flour, egg, 1 cup of milk and 1 tsp of sugar to make the batter. It'll be similar to the consistency of pancake batter. Fold in the apple slices.
2. In a frying pan, pour enough vegetable oil to fill the pan about 1/4 of the way up. Heat it to hot.
3. Ladle drops of batter with 2-3 apple slices into the oil. You don't need a lot of batter, just enough to stick the apple pieces together.
4. Cook until the bottom is lightly golden, then flip. It should take less than 2 minutes total.
5. Place onto a paper towel lined platter. Blot up any excess oil with another paper towel.
6. To serve, give it a good dusting of powdered sugar.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Catch the moment: Week 13 (and some extras?)

Somehow I got off on my counting. I don't know. So today you get some bonus pictures! Woo hoo!

 The most precious jewels around a mother's neck are her children's arms.
 This is quite possibly the most beautiful rise that I've gotten out of my home made bread.
 A mini heat wave in March in Washington means it's like 60 degrees. So out comes the sprinkler!
 Another warm weather activity..side walk chalk! And three cheers for Ruby finally being ok with being put on the ground outside. Only if there's chalk that she can taste, color with and put into the bucket.
 Miss E turned 4 and we came over for a Princess / Easter egg hunt birthday party. What a blessing this friendship has been to Penny.
 I snagged my niece and nephew for the day while their parents and my husband did some renovating. We drove to grandma and grandpa's house. Having two rear facing kids, two forward facing kids and a 3rd row makes life so much easier! They all just entertained each other.
 My naptime project for the last week was clearing out the garden beds on the front and side of the house, which had been neglected for a LONG time by the previous owners. All of the extra grass and weeds went to my chickens, who have been on lock down from free ranging because quite frankly, I would prefer for my kids to not step in chicken poop when they're running around in the grass during our gorgeous weather ;) When the rain returns, the girls will be let out again.
 We've making use of our fabulous RadioFlyer Wagon (review!) and Penny insisted to pull Ruby around. Fine by me! We made a quick Buy Nothing Project delivery to our neighbor.
 This is the science project of my life. Why do some egg dye colors make bubbles on the egg shell?
It was a hard, hard day. So hard. One of the hardest days of my mothering career. Nothing went right, my voice was raised too often and too many tears were shed by all three of us. So I pulled out one of my favorite dinners to console myself.. and I didn't care if anyone else liked it either. Thanks, The Kitchn, for Spaghetti alla Carbonara

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