May 25, 2016

Children's Book Review: Poetry

Growing up I have always enjoyed poetry, starting with my first Mother Goose Rhymes and Shel Silverstein and later on the works of Robert Frost, Edgar Allen Poe and Sylvia Plath. I even dabbled with a little writing in my teen years. I love sharing my love of books with Penelope and I am always excited to share poetry with her. I was recently sent three children's poetry books by Candlewick Press for review.

Among a Thousand Fireflies by Helen Frost and Rock Lieder
On a summer evening, just as the stars blink on, a firefly lands on a flower. Lights start to flash all around her — first one, then three, seven. Hundreds. Thousands. How will she find just one flash among them? And will he see her flash in return? In evocative photographs and lyrical language, Rick Lieder and Helen Frost, creators of the critically acclaimed Step Gently Out and Sweep Up the Sun, offer a true story of how two fireflies come together after finding each other’s light among thousands of others.
This book is ideal for children aged 3-7. The text is short but the book comes to life with magical verse and beautiful photographs of fireflies in nature. In Penelope's words " this book is quick to read but I like it because of the pretty pictures. I like fireflies and I learned about how these beetles light up".
A Great Big Cuddle: Poems for the very young by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell
In this exuberant compilation, Michael Rosen invites children to joyfully celebrate sounds and the infinite possibilities of language. Nonsense verses with the feel of classic nursery rhymes tickle the ear and set feet tapping while expressive illustrations by Chris Riddell illuminate the larger-than-life characters. With subject matter that runs the gamut of a child’s emotional range from hungry and angry to wiggly and giggly, these thirty-six clever poems will delight little listeners.
This is a collection of 35 playful poems for children aged 3-7. The verses in this book are simple and childlike. It is filled with colorful and detailed artwork that appeals to kids. In Penelope's words " This book is fun! My favorite poem is Once, I also like all the drawings". Penelope wrote her name inside the cover of this book, I guess that means it is a keeper.
Shrunken Treasures by Scott Nash
Can’t stomach all of Frankenstein? Lacking the strength to read The Odyssey? Don’t have 1,001 nights to get through Scheherazade’s ordeal? Never fear, Shrunken Treasures are here! Nine of the world’s best-known stories and books have been reduced, like slowly simmered cherries, to tart and tasty mouthfuls. Lighthearted verse turns Moby-Dick into a simple nursery song. Outrageous color makes even gloomy Hamlet seem like fun. Riotous images transform Jane Eyre’s ordeal into a whirlwind adventure. The Metamorphosis, Remembrance of Things Past, Don Quixote, and others have all been delivered from dense duty to delightful ditty in Scott Nash’s collection of hallowed classics, featuring notes about the original texts at the end.
This large size 40 page book for ages 5-7 takes literary classics like Jane Eyre and Hamlet and condenses them into fun and silly rhymes that children will love. This was my favorite of all three books, it is the perfect, made for little ears, introduction to famous literary works. The artwork is adorable as is the brief introduction by the author. In Penelope's words " This book has good stories that rhyme. My favorite is called The Odyssey because there is a girl named Penelope in it. My mom said when I am older I can read the grown up versions of these stories".
You can get your hands on all three of these books wherever children's books are sold.
The featured product{s} in this post were provided to me free of charge from Moms Meet. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone

May 18, 2016

Yummy in my Tummy- Karl Strauss Brewing Company

This was my third time visiting Karl Strauss in Temecula. To be honest with you I am not sure why as I don't remember past visits being all that great. Karl Strauss has several locations in and around San Diego including their Tasting Room & Beer Garden. I feel like when I read the menu at Karl Strauss the descriptions of all the food sound amazing, and when I actually receive my meal I am left feeling disappointed. Yes, some of the items I have tried there have been pretty good  but never as good as they sound, with one exception...

On this particular visit I decided to try one of their "life changing" mac and cheesees, The Piggy Bank. Made with large elbow noodles, gorgonzola, gruyere, and cheddar cheese, and a crispy parmesan breadcrumb topping and the addition of Beer-brined bacon, Black Forest ham and Andouille.  This was everything I was promised. Cheesy, crispy, and filled with pork yumminess. It was so good in fact Chris, who ordered the Spicy Shrimp & Grits kept coming back to my plate.

Pan-seared shrimp, beer deglaze, sriracha butter, cilantro, broccoli, avocado, roasted red peppers, and creamy habanero jack grits. While the flavor of this entrĂ©e was okay, like Chris said "if something is described as being spicy and has the addition of sriracha and habanero in it, well it better be spicy". This unfortunately was just mildly zesty. I also didn't enjoy the texture of the grits. They were kind of gritty and crunchy and not the smooth creamy texture I feel grits should be. Also if you look closely at Chris' glass of  Double Chocolate Imperial Stout you will notice a large crack in the glass. How was this missed by both the bartender and our server? Ugh. Neither of us enjoyed this chocolate stout by the way.

The little one was with us on this particular outing and she ordered the Meat & Cheese Board. Zoe’s nitrite-free Coppa Salume & Genovese Salami from Santa Rosa, California, with Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog, Tillamook Aged Cheddar, creamy Cambozola, fig chutney, candied pecans, Granny Smith apple slices, and Sadie Rose Kalamata bread. While every thing was good it was just a meat and cheese board, nothing special.

I also decided to try their signature year around beer flight; Follow the Sun Kolsch, Red Trolley Ale, Mosaic Session IPA, Tower 10 IPA. I enjoyed the first three, Red Trolley was my fave and the Tower 10 was much to bitter for me, it was left behind.

I don't think we will be making a fourth visit to Karl Strauss anytime soon. They recently opened up a Ballast Point in Temecula so I think we will give that a try instead.

Karl Strauss Brewing Company
40868 Winchester Rd.
Temecula, CA 92591

May 17, 2016

National Barbecue Month

Did you know that May is National Barbecue Month? That's right the weather is getting warmer, summers just around the corner and it's time to put that backyard grill to use. Here are some recipes courtesy of Sparkling Ice to kick off grill season.

Coconut Pineapple Skewers
  • 1 bottle Coconut Pineapple Sparkling Ice
  • ½ cup olive oil + extra to brush pineapple
  • 2 teaspoons harissa paste or other spicy chili sauce (like Siracha)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ - 1 ½ lbs. chicken tenders
  • 1 fresh pineapple – peeled, cut into 1½" chunks
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Toasted coconut for garnish, optional
  • Cilantro for garnish, optional
Special Equipment:
  • 16 Wooden skewers for grilling
  • In large shallow baking dish combine Coconut Pineapple Sparkling Ice, olive oil, harissa, salt and stir to combine. Reserve 1/3 cup marinade for basting
  • Add chicken tenders, turning to coat. Cover and let marinate in refrigerator for 2 hours
  • Meanwhile, soak 16 wooden skewers in water
  • String marinated chicken on 8 wooden skewers
  • String pineapple on remaining skewers and brush with olive oil
  • Heat grill to medium high
  • Grill chicken and pineapple on two separate parts of grill. Grill chicken for 4 – 6 minutes per side (depending on thickness and heat)
  • Remove to platter and baste with reserved marinade
  • Grill pineapple until slightly caramelized 
  • Serve with cooked rice
  • Garnish with cilantro and toasted coconut if desired
Chillin' Cherry Slider Sauce
  • 1 bottle Cherry Limeade Sparkling Ice
  • 2 cups cherries, pitted fresh or frozen (10 oz.) 
  • 2 medium shallots – chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Add Cherry Limeade Sparkling Ice to medium saucepan. Bring to boil and reduce liquid by less half, about ¾ cup.
  • Add cherries, shallots and spices. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and slow boil for 20 minutes until fruit is tender and liquid reduces further. Allow to cool for 30 minutes.
  • Transfer to blender. Blend until smooth.
  • Top your favorite grilled sliders – try ground lamb, pork or chicken!
Spiked Basil Lemonade
  • 2 bottles Sparkling Ice Lemonade
  • 3 shots vodka
  • Muddled Basil Leaves
  • 1 teaspoon simple syrup
  • Shake all the ingredients together and pour over ice into Highball glasses
  • Top with any remaining Sparking Ice Lemonade
  • Garnish with Basil leaf
Watermelon Ginger Cherry Cooler
  • 2 bottles Sparkling Ice Black Cherry
  • 1 cup ginger beer
  • Frozen watermelon chunks
  • Mix Sparkling Ice Black Cherry and Ginger in highball glass - no ice.
  • Put chunks of frozen watermelon in a blender and then add to soda.
  • Garnish with fresh fruit.

May 15, 2016

Slow Cooker Carnitas

Yesterday I made some slow cooker carnitas that I turned into tacos for dinner. Simple and delicious!

Slow Cooker Carnitas

2 pound Pork shoulder roast
A handful of pearl onions
8-10 Garlic cloves
Freshly squeezed juice from 2 oranges
Onion powder
Garlic salt
Salt & Pepper
Lard or oil for frying

Season your roast liberally with salt, pepper, garlic salt and onion powder. Place in crockpot with the onions and garlic. Pour orange juice over everything. Cover and cook on high for 6 hours. Once finished remove meat onto a cutting board or plate and shred. Warm some oil in a large frying pan, I think lard works best and gives the meat added flavor, but a corn or canola oil will work as well. Fry meat until it browns and crisps a little.

I served on warm corn tortillas with my guacamole.

Oh! and an FYI...Penelope made the talent show!

May 03, 2016

The Rose

Today Penelope auditioned for her school talent show, she performed The Rose on piano. I thought I would send along some inspiration for lunch.

Top tier: Heart shaped mozzarella cheese, a pepperoni rose, some breadsticks.

Bottom tier: Raspberries and a heart shaped egg.

I also included some vanilla cupcake goldfish. We should find out in a few days if she made the cut, I will let you know.

May 01, 2016

Plackers Review and Giveaway


Makers of the first dental flosser Plackers wants to help parents establish healthy dental care habits in their children. They are doing this in the best way possible, with their new Plackers Fruit Smoothie Swirl flossers and the Flosser Friend.

Fruit Smoothie Swirl flossers offer a colorful, angled, dual grip handle making it easier for little hands to floss on their own, but what do kids love most about these? The fruity flavor of course! Your kiddos will love using these flossers and you will love that they help reduce tooth decay and promote healthier gums by removing plaque and food. The Plackers Flosser Friend is also a fun and functional way for your kids to enjoy their teeth cleaning ritual. Flosser Friend is easy to open and holds your child's unused flossers. It even comes pre packaged with 30 flossers to start.

Penelope was so excited to receive these two items and has been flossing up a storm, in fact she had a dentist appointment last week and he mentioned what a great job she has been doing flossing her teeth.

You can easily purchase Fruit Smoothie Swirl flossers and a Flosser Friend online. While you are there grab your kids and check out Plackers Kids Club filled with games and activities designed to get your kids thinking about the good health of their teeth.

The generous people at Plackers are allowing me to give one of my readers the chance to win a Flosser Friend!

To Enter: Leave me a comment telling me who will be the lucky kid to get their hands on a Flosser Friend. You can get extra entries for following me via GFC and liking me on Facebook.

This giveaway will end on May 13, 2016. I will choose the winner using Please leave a valid email address if it is not visible in your profile. US entries only.

The featured product{s} in this post were provided to me free of charge from Moms Meet. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and not influenced in any way by anyone.

April 30, 2016

More Chippys!

I found two "new for me" bags of chips while shopping at World Market the other day. Of course I could not pass them up.

The first bag is a British import, so they are actually crisps not chips. These John & John Suffolk Cheddar & Chives crisps were not bad. They are thick cut and well, super crisp. I think they could used a little more salt. I am waiting for World Market to bring in their Aspall Cyder Vinegar crisps, I love me some vinegar  chips crisps, whatever.

The second bag was from one of my many fave brands, Hawaiian kettle style potato chips. This 30th Anniversary Special Batch is flavored Island Lemon. How could I leave the store without these. As promised these were tart & tangy and pretty tasty. They reminded me a little of Lay's Limon flavor only thicker, crunchier and not as salty. I think these could have used a little salt. They were good nonetheless and also tasted great with a little Tapatio on them.
Head on over to your local World Market and pick these chips up now before they leave the shelves!

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