Easy Thanksgiving Dessert- Orange Creamsicle Pie

I'm the queen of easy peasy when it comes to cooking and baking.  I love homemade (read semi-homemade) but I don't have the time or the energy for a super hard recipe.  I love this recipe because it only takes minutes to whip together; you could even make it the same day you need to serve it.  Just allow about 4 hours to set in the freezer.

I was looking for a dessert recipe for our Thanksgiving meal but I wanted it to have a slight twist from the traditional.  Since citrus is in season and I'm looking for any way to sneak in some extra vitamin C I wanted to create a recipe with mandarins.  I always get my citrus from Bee Sweet Citrus because they have year-round availabilty for oranges, mandarins and lemons.  They have speciality citrus varieties during the California domestic season.  Right now us locals can look forward to Meyer Lemons, Cara Cara Navels (hello gorgeous!), Blood Oranges, Star Ruby Grapefruit and Pummelos.  Another reason I love supporting Bee Sweet Citrus is because they are a family owned and operated grower, packer and shopper of citrus.  

Enjoy your sweet and delicious dessert and wishing everyone a blessed Thanksgiving!

  1. 2 blocks of cream cheese (16 oz each)
  2. 1 C. plus 2 Tbsp. of granulated sugar
  3. 1 C. of mandarin oranges, peeled
  4. 1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
  5. 1 C. Cool Whip
  6. Graham Cracker Crust (ready made)

Add cream cheese, sugar, oranges and vanilla to a stand mixer and mix on low until all the ingredients are combined and smooth.  Gently fold in the Cool Whip.  Pour mixture into crust and freeze for at least 4 hours.  Top with a dollop of Cool Whip and a mandarin/orange.

The Lord is Within Her; She Will Not Fall

Emily's First Holy Communion was scheduled for right after the world shut down so of course it was postponed.  Unfortunately, it was moved to the hottest day of the year and didn't look normal at all.  Looking back the day makes me a little sad because it's one of the most important days in a child's life and it was stripped of all the sacred beauty.  But overall, I am grateful for Emily to receive this sacrament.

Since we were still in quarantine we did a very small party to celebrate the occasion.  Despite the intimate gathering I still wanted to make the day special for Emily.  The decor I used was simple: a chalkboard with bible verse, ballon arch, cake and flowers.

Halloween Crafts & Treats

I'm a lover of all holidays and I'm always talking about how much I live for traditions.  To this day I remember traditions from my childhood and I just love creating new ones with my kids.  I hope they carry some of them on with their families.  One of our greatest traditions is making treats and enjoying them during a movie night.  Especially this time of year we love camping out in front of the tv and enjoying food and family.

A "charcuterie" board always make food that much more fun so I've been having fun creating different Halloween boards.  My first Halloween Treat Board consisted of mandarin pumpkins, candy corn & pumpkins, Halloween Oreo's, Moose Track Ice Cream, and Spooky Spider Popcorn.

Making the popcorn couldn't be any easier.  You can pop popcorn or you can do what I did and just buy Skinny Pop and then melt orange chocolate and drizzle on top.  I added Halloween sprinkles and set in the fridge for an hour.  In the meantime I made the spider plate for the popcorn which consists of cutting black pipe cleaners to the desired length and hot glueing to the bottom of a black paper plate.  Then 3/4 of the way down the pipe cleaner you bend at a 45 degree angle.  Lastly, hot glue googly eyes to the top of the plate. 

To make the mandarin pumpkins you peel a mandarin and then slice a very small piece of celery and insert in the top.  Plain ice cream isn't nearly as fun as ice cream with sprinkles so sprinkles were added to the top.  I put it all together on a board and let the fun begin!

Growing up TWO Fast!

I can't believe our baby boy is already 2!!! Time is such a thief and what they say is so true about the days being long but the years so short.  Since Jack Jack is growing up so fast and since he's a total boy that loves cars I decided to do a Race Car Party-Growing Up TWO Fast!

Orange Creamsicle Pop Recipe

If you know me you know I love to create and keep things fun but I also only tackle the simple projects and recipes.  My life is way too chaotic to take on long and tedious stuff.  We have making popsicles on our Summer Bucket List every Summer and I was looking for a new flavor.  We've been loving fresh citrus from Bee Sweet Citrus and so I decided I wanted to make something incorporating our favorite mandarins.

This is a simple five ingredient recipe that takes little to no time.  You will need 2 mandarins, 1/2 cup of orange juice, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 cup whipping cream and 1 tsp. vanilla.

Start by peeling mandarins and placing in a food processor or blender.  Add OJ and sugar; process for 20 seconds.

Then add vanilla and whipping cream and process for 60 seconds.  If the mixture is still runny process a little longer.

Pour into popsicle molds and place in freezer.  After a few hours add popsicle sticks and freeze overnight.  Remove from freezer and run under warm water for a few seconds and pull popsicles out of mold.  Place in plastic bag and freeze.

My favorite popsicle mold:

Serve and enjoy!  Long live Summer!

Creative and Fun Breakfast Ideas for Kids

Quarantine started feeling like groundhog day pretty early on.  So after a few weeks I decided I was going to have to get us all out of rut.  My whole life I've lived by the motto of "Get up, dress up and show up."  I lost that right away in quarantine and so I decided I was going to have to get back to that and start my days off right and actually get ready.  It helps me to feel so much better and have the energy to tackle the day.  Another way I broke the monotony was changing up breakfast.  During regular school we had oatmeal or cereal almost everyday because the mornings were so rushed.  One of the bright sides of quarantine was not having to be out of the house by 7:45 every morning.  Since I had a bit more leisure time I decided to add some fun into breakfast to help curb the groundhog blues.

The girls were thrilled with the change of menu and started praising me for the creative breakfasts.  And let's be real there wasn't anything too special or creative.  I just changed it up but still kept things simple.  Here are a few of the favorites:

Healthy and Creative Snack Ideas for Kids

My kids would live on snacks if I let them.  Is it just my kids that ask for a snack five minutes after a meal?!?!  Or is that normal little person behavior?  I get the feeling they think I live in the kitchen and it's okay for me to be their snack slave.  Someone also must have given them the idea that fruit snacks are a food group.  I'm trying to break that idea and keep snacks healthy and nutritious as often as I can but sometimes I have to trick them into choosing the healthy snacks.  One way I accomplish that is making their snacks fun and creative.  This usually ensures lots of smiles and clean plates!

Vitamin C is such an important part of their diet especially in these unsettling virus times.  A great snack are mandarins from Bee Sweet Citrus.  I just sliced some up to make some fun items.  First were little fish.  You need Bee Sweet mandarins, raisins, carrots, and candy eyes.  Slice the mandarins, top with 1 eye, and cut two pieces off of a baby carrot for tail.  Finally cut carrot in half lengthwise then cut the carrot into fourths.  Then cut a small notch in the middle of one of the pieces.  Place all together on a plate.  For another version of the orange fish I sliced mandarins and then in half again.  Layer to make fish scales, cut a slice of a carrot for the mouth, candy eyes for the eyes and mini marshmallows for the bubbles.

To make a mandarin sun slice a mandarin, top with two raisins, and then cut baby carrots into fourths lengthwise and place around mandarin.

Lastly I made a butterfly with grapes, mandarins, carrots and black decorative icing.  Cut mandarin into slices and then cut two slices in half again to make wings.  Place next to five grapes and use icing to make eyes.  Lastly, I cut two very thin slices of carrots for the antenna.

My girls were so excited to see this afternoon snack spread and it only took me a few minutes.  Luckily I also had everything on hand (yes I always have candy eyes and black icing).

If you're ever in a rut here are a few other snack ideas that were a huge hit in our house:

How to Better Prepare Your Child for the Orthodontist

Do you know anyone who has great teeth and didn't have braces at some point in their life?  Yup, me neither!  Orthodontia just seems to be a milestone in a child's life.  Since it's something that just about everyone has to experience I love that we've found a program to introduce the process to our kiddos.
Thurman Orthodontics has a fabulous program starting at age 7 called Groovy Grins.  Twice a year your child comes in for FREE checkup including x-rays to see how their teeth and jaw growth is developing.  This way you are perfectly informed on when it will be the best time for your child to get braces. The best part for your kid is the free swag they get at every checkup.  Emily came home with a bag full of gear and now she keeps asking when her next appointment is.  The best part in my eyes is that she won't be scared or intimidated when she really needs braces.  She'll be comfortable with office, the staff and the process.  It's a total win-win and I couldn't recommend Dr. Thurman and his Groovy Grins program more!

Any kid will feel like a real VIP at Dr. Thurman's office because they can make a hot chocolate and grab a cookie.  Plus they go home with a bag full of swag.  Extra bonus mom can make a coffee or tea (and a cookie, duh) and sip while you wait for your child's appointment to finish.

Lastly, the office is beautiful, interactive and totally inviting.  You can schedule your Groovy Grin appointment by calling (559) 439-0425.  

If you want to see more about the Invisalign process from Dr. Thurman check out my post HERE.

4th of July Ice Cream Sandwich Sprinkle Pops

It doesn't get any easier than this recipe and my taste testers don't get any cuter!  Ice cream sandwiches cut in half, dip the sides in holiday sprinkles and insert a lollipop stick.  Place in cupcake holders and freeze until ready to serve.  An easy treat for your party and a big hit!

Splash Into Summer Party

Our kids finished the craziest school year and survived the roller coaster!!!  There were days I didn't think we would make it but my girls are so positive and resilient.  Surviving the mayhem of distance learning deserved a party!!!  We celebrated with our neighbors and had the absolute best day celebrating and kicking off Summer.

Six is Sweet-Madison's 6th Birthday

Just because the world is different doesn't mean we can't celebrate.  We hopped on the band wagon and did a drive-by birthday parade for our Madison's 6th birthday.  It was a surprise and Madi was a little intimidated at first and a bit shy but it ended up being the best day!  We were so blessed by how many of our friends and family came to celebrate our birthday girl.  The cherry on top was of course having Cherry on Top treat all our friends to some ice cream.  It was a hot and humid day and the ice cream was perfect. The drive-by parade was such a success that Emily asked for the same kind of birthday for her party.  Gosh I sure hope we're not in this same world come November!

Hosting an Outdoor Easter Brunch

We host Easter nearly every year at our home and I just love hosting a party.  Due to the pandemic we obviously couldn't host our extended family but I wasn't going to bypass the festivities because it was just our immediate family.  I decided to create an outdoor Easter Brunch so that we could get outside to enjoy the beautiful weather but more importantly so that we could share in our neighborhood celebrations!

Cinco de Mayo Crafts & Treats

We love celebrating all holidays to the fullest and that usually includes a craft or two and lots of yummy treats. The girls and I worked on the crafts and treats together and had a fun afternoon together.  We made cactus rocks, paper plate sombrero hats, sombrero cookies and cactus pretzel sticks.

Easter Bunny Brunch

There isn't a holiday that goes by that I don't do a special breakfast.  The surprise element is long gone but there isn't any less excitement from the girls and now Jack wants in on the fun.  I keep everything simple and affordable so it doesn't take a lot of time or money. I use many things over and over in order to accomplish that.  Most of the time I use our colorful RePlay tableware but I had these supplies left over from a party so I decided to use them.  I made the garland years ago from paint sample cards and the only other decor was some fresh tulips and our letter board.

Fun Easter Week Traditions & Activities

Traditions mean so much to me; they remind me of my childhood and bring such joy to my heart.  I hope that my children will continue these one day and fondly think of their childhood memories.  We take any excuse to celebrate, craft or create and here are some of our traditions:

1. Decorate Easter cookies
2. Easter Picnic and/or Lunch
3. Easter Crafts
4. Dying Easter Eggs