The Busy Giffs: August 2016

August 31, 2016

Yoo-hoo Chocolate Malt Cake #ThrowbackSoda #ad

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #ThrowbackSoda #CollectiveBias

Our anniversary was last week and really, this year was one of my favorites. Not only because we went away and had a blast but this year, Facebook has the On This Day feature, so I was able to look back at all the status updates that Dave and I have made for each other over the past six years. In addition to our sappy love posts, I kept seeing pictures of the most delicious cake that I apparently made each year for David.

Fun story: one of my favorite wedding shower gifts is a scrapbook recipe book that was made for me. All of the influential women in my life wrote out their favorite recipes on index cards and put it them all together into a book for me. It has my mom's chili, her best friend's fudge... the list goes on, delicious dishes that I love to make.  My absolutely delicious chocolate cake recipe is from that book. Passed down for generations, it has made it's way into my recipe collection.

easy bake dessert yoohoo

There's something about a delicious chocolate cake that tastes like a milkshake...

The recipe calls for milk but while I was walking through Wal-mart, I saw the signature glass bottles of Yoo-hoo and decided that I was going to make this chocolate cake even more delicious and more chocolate tasting by substituting Yoo-hoo in for the milk!

I love the nostalgic glass bottles. They just scream classic diner to me. Since the 4 pack was less than $3, and I had an Ibotta Rebate for $1.65 if I bought two, I grabbed a couple four packs, knowing they'd taste delicious with my cake!

I love a good easy cake recipe.  I don't want something that calls for 800 ingredients that are impossible to find. I love how simple this recipe is; you really should have everything in our cabinets already!

Chocolate Malt Cake

2 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cup sugar
3/4 cup soft butter

3 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup oil
1 1/4 cup Yoo-hoo Chocolate Drink

Preheat oven to 350*.
Grease the bottom of 2 8" or 9" round pans.
Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl.
Add in wet ingredients.
Slowly add in dry ingredients and continue mixing until thoroughly combined.
Divide batter evenly between both pans.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Cake recipe, chocolate, milk, grandma's

In all my years of baking, I have only made one frosting from scratch and honestly, I'm not about to start so I grabbed 2 jars of chocolate buttercream frosting at the store. To really amp up the flavor, I add 2 tablespoons of chocolate malt powder and mixed it in.

I love lots of frosting, which is why I use 2 cans! Originally I planned on frosting the whole cake but I loved the way it looked with the sides exposed so I didn't cover it all.  I did use crackers to eat the extra frosting but no judgement, okay? It was the only thing I could do to keep from eating the whole cake while I waited for Dave to get home.

It was so worth the wait though!
I laid out one of my old flowered tablecloths and set up the table to surprise him when he came in.  I put the cake on a stand I received as a wedding gift and grabbed some straws for our Yoo-hoo.  It really was a sweet little date in our kitchen, while we talked about our anniversary weekend and the weekends in years past.

I love how a sweet and simple gift led us to spend some time reminiscing about our relationship and all we've gone through. Be the hero of your family with these products and create a sweet treat to celebrate every day.

xo, Heather

August 25, 2016

Tasty Twists on Classic Chicken Salad

Disclosure: I was sent product to facilitate this post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Today I did the big back to school lunch stock up at the grocery store.  You know, the big pantry stock up, full of granola bars, cups of fruit, and fish crackers? The most expensive trip of the year. Ha! I love packing lunches. I know I sound crazy but I do.  I make little boxes full of treats she loves.  I love knowing exactly what she's eating and how much.  That's not a crack at schools, her school is amazing with lunches, but she is not always the best at making choices.

I've been working hard this summer making better choices for our everyday lunches and I was thrilled when Willow Tree contacted me to see if I'd like to try two of their new tasty twists on their classic chicken salad. Let's be honest, Willow Tree Chicken salad is the only chicken salad worth eating.  Do we remember when I was pregnant with Emmalee and it's all I wanted to eat? I don't have the excuse of being pregnant anymore, but still I love it and always bring some home from the store.

I was really excited that one of the new flavors is Willow Tree Avocado Chicken Salad. I'm a sucker for avocado and could put it on everything.  Willow Tree's Avocado Chicken Salad is made with Avèyo, an avocado-based mayo alternative that has 70% less fat and 50% fewer calories than regular chicken salad.  The Avèyo is made only with Hass avocado, white vinegar, olive oil, sea salt and lime juice. According to Willow Tree, "Avèyo purees the avocado at the peak of ripeness, and uses it in place of the eggs and most of the oil used in traditional mayo brands which maintains the creamy texture and delicious flavor one expects from a classic chicken salad." The only other ingredients are premium white meat chicken and dried cranberries, which makes the Avocado Chicken Salad a lighter, gluten-free, dairy-free and better-for-you option that is perfect for lunches!

Like I said, I've been working on making healthier meals, and decided the Avocado Chicken salad would be perfect to make an Avocado Chicken Salad BLT Lettuce Wrap.

So delicious and so simple!

In a pan, cook 2 pieces of bacon until crisp. Remove from pan, let cool, and crumble.
Wash 1 large romaine lettuce leaf and lay it on the plate.  Add 1/2 cup Willow Tree Avocado Chicken Salad.
Halve 5 grape tomatoes and spread across Avocado Chicken Salad.
Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top of Avocado Chicken Salad and tomatoes.
Roll up Romaine lettuce and enjoy!

Dave is not a huge fan of avocado (it's fine, means more for me!), but he loves a good kick of heat so he was excited to see the new Willow Tree Sriracha Chicken Salad! The classic chicken salad gets an extra kick of the hot, tangy, and slightly sweet flavor. There was no way he was going to eat my Avocado Chicken Salad BLT Lettuce Wrap so I made him a Sriracha Chicken Salad Grilled Cheese for lunch.

Again, super easy.

Butter two pieces of bread and place in a skillet warmed at medium-low heat. Top each piece of bread with 1 piece of cheese (he liked it with Swiss but it's up to you!)
Cook until bread is golden brown and cheese is melty.
Remove from the pan and place on a plate.
Spread 1/2 cup of Willow Tree Sriracha Chicken Salad on one piece of bread, top with remaining piece of bread, and enjoy!

I was surprised by how much I loved the new salads, because you know, usually the sequel isn't as good as the original, but both were so yummy! I was also surprised to see that the Willow Tree Company is only a couple of towns over from us! This huge, delicious, company started in 1954 as a family farm in Attleboro before growing into a leader of deli and freezer products.  I love being able to support local companies!

I loved learning that in addition to big supermarkets like Shaw's, Hannaford, Big Y and Trucchi's, I can pick up Willow Tree products at their own retail store in Attleboro! And at $7.99-$8.99 a container, you know I'm buying these in bulk!

For new product introductions, recipe ideas, special offers, and more, follow Willow Tree on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter!

xo, Heather

August 24, 2016

Lillebaby COMPLETE Organic Giveaway!

Good morning!!
Today is a great day and you know why? LÍLLÉbaby released their "new" Organic line of COMPLETE carriers earlier! LÍLLÉbaby has had organic carriers before, like my gorgeous blue Celeste carrier that is no longer in production, but these new organic carriers are the new, better versions of the one I already have! They are made from an amazingly soft and sustainable certified organic cotton. LÍLLÉbaby even won an award and they're just be released today! Over achievers!

And seriously, how gorgeous is that green color? I love the classic LÍLLÉbaby Green Meadows, which will be a limited time color! LÍLLÉbaby will be bringing back a gorgeous navy color called Blue Moonlight also!

I am so in love with the new colors as well: Sea Glass, Blushing Pink, Powder Blue!

Lillebaby COMPLETE Organic Carrier

Amirite? Or amirite? GORGEOUS!
They are Beautiful, soft, and the best part, sustainable, made with 100% Organic Cotton. That means not only do I get to love on my little ones in the organic COMPLETE carrier, I get to help ensure they have a beautiful world to grow up in later. 

LÍLLÉbaby even has it's own Green Commitment posted on their website!

I can't wait to get my hands on one of these, I think I'm torn between... uh... all of them? Seriously, first I think I want Sea Glass, then Blushing Pink, then Powder Blue, and then I can't choose.  I can get more than one right?

COMPLETE carriers are amazing and really, I already have multiples because I love them so much, so what's 2, or 3, or 5 more? 

Here's a quick rundown on the facts about the COMPLETE:

1. SIX ERGONOMIC CARRYING POSITIONS – Includes every carrying position without the need for an infant insert: Front-fetal, Front-infant, Front-outward, Front- toddler, Hip and Back carry. The COMPLETE grows with yoru child through all the baby wearing years, from 7 lbs to 45 lbs. The patented cupped seat adjusts to keep baby ergonomically seated in all six carry positions through every development stage.

2. LUMBAR SUPPORT – Increases comfort, maintains healthy posture and alignment, and prevents lower back strain. Combined with an extra sturdy waist belt to maximize parent's comfort. 

3. TWO-WAY STRAP NEW! – Enable wearer to carry "backpack style" or with straps crossed in the back. Dual adjustment buckles simplify breastfeeding and adjusting straps on the go.

4. SLEEPING HOOD– Features dual adjustment points to provide tailored support for baby's head while sleeping, sun protection while exploring, and privacy while nursing. Removable.

5. EXTRA TALL, EXTENDABLE TORSO – So comfortable your baby will fall asleep. Provides extra neck and back support and keeps taller babies secure in the carrier. The adjustable width gently cradles baby's head. Elastic straps provide support while allowing for movement and easy adjustment.

6. POCKETS NEW! - Large zippered storage pocket, plus easy-reach pocket for storing hood and essentials.

7. WIDE, PADDED SHOULDER STRAPS & WASIT BELT - Evenly distribute baby's weight for maximized comfort.

The biggest benefits of the COMPLETE carrier are that one carrier offers 6 carrying positions (with no infant insert!) and that it fits littles from 7 lbs all the way up to 45 lbs.  That means I can carry a newborn all the way up to my 5 year old with ONE carrier.  Talk about return on investment...

But the coolest part of today? I have teamed up with a handful of other LÍLLÉbaby enthusiast to give away an Organic COMPLETE carrier! The winner will get to choose which in stock color they would like and it will be shipped directly from LÍLLÉbaby. It's simple, enter using the Giveaway below, tell all your friends, and then cross your fingers you get randomly selected to win!

In the meantime, check out the other blogs and read all about their thoughts (and see their gorgeous pictures of the new Organic COMPLETE carriers!):

And visit Instagram to see even more soft, sustainable beautifulness...

FINAL LIllebaby COMPLETE Organic Giveaway.png


Good luck!

xo, Heather

August 22, 2016

Go Back to School with Help from Blogger Bash! #BBNYC

I know I've talked a lot about the toys I saw at Sweet Suite and Blogger Bash, but the conference offered so much more!

As much as I'm avoiding thinking about it, school is only a week away now so I am in back to school mode.  I was honestly surprised by how many brands were there that were more than toys, and instead really great products for every day! Here's a few of my favorites that will help me get back into the swing of school!

You can't head back to school without a new backpack and lunch box, right? I am in love with the designs from Bixbee.  They offer backpacks, lunchboxes, even duffles that make great dance bags! They have a couple great promos going on and if you order an animal bag, you get a free lunchbox! I love good savings. They're even better when they are adorable! I love that the bag holds items horizontally to spread the weight over the shoulders, rather than up and down the back and they seem to be really well made.  Emma has been loving her duffle bag! And did I mention you can have them personalized?

backpack, knapsack, lunch box, back to school

Another great item to pack in those bags? Drink in the Box and Snack in the Box containers! I mean, we all know how unnecessary extra sugar is for our kids, but did you know the average juice box can have up to 7 teaspoons of sugar? No thanks. My kids are already hyper enough.  We've switched to lots of infused waters or watered down juices to keep them from all the extra sugars. While I've found lots of bottles that allow me to do this, none quite stack up to the Drink in the Box containers. The containers are made with a BPA, BPS and Phthalates free material called TRITAN™, have an attached straw and are leak free. I love to put a couple of fresh berries in the containers, fill it with water, and the kids are happy to drink from them all day.

They also make Snack in the Box, which is the same concept except for snacks! No more crushed goldfish crackers in the bag! Yey! Because the container holds 2 6 oz portions, you can cut down on the amount of containers you're trying to fit into that lunchbox!

I already know my kids' lunchboxes are going to be filled with Drink in the Box and Snack in the Box containers! You can pick up a few of your own here (aff).

If you're looking to pack up more than snacks, you could always pack up a lunch in Sistema box. I am seriously in love with the Bento Box and need to add one or two to the growing collection of Sistema containers we have!

Once the kids have their bags packed up, it's time to get them dressed! I am in love with LittleMissMatched and Triple Flip!

It's really important to me that I find clothes that empower my little girl and are age appropriate. I hate how quick girl's clothing makes girls grow up.  I want my daughter in clothes that aren't low cut or too short. I want her to be comfortable but still feel fashionable. LittleMissMatched has bright, exciting and fashionable clothes but they are totally age appropriate for girls.

My favorite pieces are the Hi Bye Baseball tees and Cotton Candy leggings. Emmalee asked if I'd buy her the Royal Cat sweatshirt! In addition to clothes, LittleMissMatched carries lots of accessories, like hats, notebooks, and bags, and great shoes! One of the most fun things about LittleMissMatched is that they sell their socks in packs of 3, and none technically match! Ha.

Triple Flip is another amazing shop directed at tweens.  There's an obvious gap in clothing for tweens and Triple Flip is doing amazing addressing it. For starters, they don't use models. They use everyone, seriously, you can sign up here and when they're local to you for a photo shot, they'll let you know! The whole brand is designed around empowering girls and creating clothes that fit their lifestyles, not creating a girl to fit the clothes. Triple Flip carries everything from leggings and shirts, to skirts, jackets, hats, and clothes for sports like dance, gymnastics, and skating.

But let's be honest, no matter how gorgeous your new back to school items are, or how good you look, we all feel a bit of anxiety when starting anything new, and a new school year is no exception.  I really love the concept behind Worry Eaters, when you're nervous or afraid or worried about something, you write or draw it on a piece of paper, unzip the Worry Eaters mouth, and tuck the fear inside.  Then the Worry Eater takes care of your concerns.  As someone who has battled anxiety, it's so great to see a child friendly way to cope with those feelings.

Now, I know many of my readers have smaller children, but lots also have older students heading back to school/college or are looking for  a few back to school items for themselves.

I have already told David I'm grabbing myself a new tote bag, a new phone case, and a new agenda to get me ready for the school year. Whaaaaaaat? Teachers need new stuff each year too! :)

Zazzle makes great custom items, like tote bags and mugs, that are great quality.  I'm a hug sucker for mugs, I have like 100. I always buy them when we go somewhere (seriously I have the whole Starbucks/Disney set).  One's that give me a chuckle or motivate me are my favorites, like some of these ones.

Shoulder bags are practical and these ones are gorgeous.  I love that my favorite ones on the site basically have my initial and Emma's name on them already!

I'd seriously monogram everything if I could. I've been looking at these new sparkle cases from Speck and think they'd look perfect with a monogram, right? I love that Speck offers so many styles for so many different devices.

glitter, pineapples, flowers

Another great new product I saw at Blogger Bash to help me get ready for back to school is TUL at Office Max.  It's a discbound system notebook that is so convenient! I LOVE notebooks and planners; I mean I had 3 planners last year and I personalize notebooks for school and home so these drew me right in.  Office Max is currently rolling out more items that word in the notebooks, so I'm excited to see what else they come out with.

back to school planner,

I also grabbed a Finder's Key Purse at Blogger Bash. I can't tell you how many time I would get to my car and have to dig for my keys since they fell to the bottom of my very large school tote.  It's super obnoxious, and if I'm being honest, not very safe.  Schools are not the completely safe space they once were and having your keys at your fingertips is much safer.  I'm picking one up for my sister too; as well as their drink test kit.  I know it's scary and not something we want to think about but my sister is a gorgeous, friendly young woman who has a good heart. She lives on a college campus and while I wish I didn't have to think about it, I do, and I can't think of anything better as a back to school necessity for her.

college campus safety

And finally, the cook book Lick Your Plate by Bite Me More (aff link to buy it here) will be coming in so handy after next week! Working all day makes it more difficult to come home and cook dinner and do the night time routine but I'm excited to make some of these delicious looking, easy recipes! 

It's crazy how much work it takes to get ready to go back but the kids are excited for their first days of day care and kindergarten!

Even more exciting? A few of the brands are offering a giveaway to you!
The winner will receive a prize pack that includes gifts from Drink in the Box, a $30 credit to LittleMissMatched, a phone case from Speck, and a Worry Eater Doll!
Contest is open to US residents only.  Prizes will be shipped by the individual companies.
Winner will be chosen on Tuesday August 30th and will have 48 hours after being sent the email to claim or a new winner will be chosen.


Good luck!

xo, Heather

August 17, 2016

An Update on Tyler's Language Delay

While I'm very vocal in real life, I'm not all that vocal on here about the challenges Tyler faces. I did brush it quickly when I did his two year old post, but it's such a part of my life, I haven't really made time to address it here.

We've known since about 18 months that Tyler had a language delay.  He didn't say words. He made lots of screeches and gestures, but not words.

When we spoke to the pediatrician, he said there could be tons of reasons why he isn't talking, ranging from not feeling like he needs words because his needs are all met to something cognitive. We were quickly able to rule out any hearing issues and I told the doctor that Tyler had great receptive skills, even able to assert when he wanted something, but he lacked the vocabulary necessary to say it out loud.

In January he was evaluated for services.  He tested at or above his age level for every category except communication. But even in communication, it is broken down into receptive and expressive. His receptive was so great that it pulled his overall score to a 77, which is exactly the score he needed to not be eligible for services. Thankfully, the clinicians saw the discrepancy between his receptive and expressive and offered us services under a "clinician's judgement" decision.

Tyler began working with a clinician in our home once a week, playing but learning.  She would prompt him to make the sound before she would give him a puzzle piece, make him make a sound for which color he wanted, and encourage him to try, even if it wasn't the full word. Tyler loves her, and would run to the door to meet her.  He worked so hard, trying to make every sound but still came up short many days.

We added in a 2.5 hour play group every week, at a center with other kids to help promote the use of speech. A clinician had said that because he knew every need would be taken care of at home, and because we knew what all his noises and gestures meant, he didn't need to work as hard to get what he wanted or needed at home.  By putting him in a playgroup, he was forced to try more, to talk to other kids his age, to work with teachers who didn't know what his noises mean, even though David was present. He started picking up sign language easily.

About a month ago we added in a second clinician, a speech and language pathologist who works with him once a week on sign language. She comes to the house, plays with him and his toys, and like the other clinician, encourages him to use his words, make sounds, and is integrating sign language into his "vocabulary".

He can now sign 6 words/phrases: more, drink, I want, work, play, and all done.
Which is just about how much he can say out loud.
Tyler says: Mama, no, up, pop (for popcorn, bubbles, and literally popping something), hot, and giddyup.
His almost words are giggy (kitty), woof woof, purp(le), and diddy.
He's gotten so much better with sounds like mmm, ddd,  pah, bah, and nah.

It is frustrating to see him around kids who are much younger than him and hear them string together multiple word "sentences", but I know he's trying his hardest.

Unlike normal services that are tested annually, a clinician's judgement diagnosis requires retesting every 6 months. We had our testing last week and he technically no longer qualifies.  Where he received a 77 in communication before, he now has an 88.  I'm thrilled he's improving but he's still not where he should be for his age. The discrepancy between his expressive and receptive is still great though, so the clinician's want to have him approved until clinician's judgement again. Unfortunately, the state does not usually allow a second "clinician's judgement" call. Which means in order to get Tyler services, the clinicians are submitting a waiver, trying to prove Tyler still needs the support.

And until the state makes the decision on whether Tyler should get services, he will continue to receive them, but it scares me to think someone who has never met my child is going to have the power to say if he should or should not still be getting services.

I know it hard for him, but we're powering through and I know he'll be so successful regardless, but having these services will help him so much. It's hard as a mom, waiting for an answer that your child needs when you have no control over it.

UPDATE: Tyler's waiver was approved so we get 6 more months of services! Yey!

xo, Heather

August 16, 2016

More Toys from #BBNYC Blogger Bash

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, I may be compensated for purchases made through these links. For more information, click here

Last week, okay, maybe more than a week ago, I shared some of our favorite toys from Blogger Bash. But then we got more mail and the kids wanted to share even more of their favorite things that have arrived! Emma asked if she could make videos so this post is full of Emma and Tyler videos!

First Up: Squinkie Do Drops

These are the cutest little toys! I love the Clubhouse and love that we can add new sets to the bigger playset. The kids love them and they provide for hours of imaginative play.

Next: Weebles!

Do you remember Weebles? The old, "Weebles wobble but they don't fall down"?! They're back and updated and adorable! Jazwares has just taken them over and a whole new line will be coming out this Fall!

These are definitely Tyler's newest favorite! He's been carrying them around everywhere and everything is flying around on them, just like the Weebles in this video.

You can check out the Super Wings tv show on Sprout and there are a ton of new Super Wings toys coming out soon so be sure to come back and check out our Holiday Gift Guide when it's up!

Another older toy that is coming back out are Sing-a-ma-lings! We had a couple a couple years back and I love that they're back out again!

How cute?!

Emmalee is loving The Irish Fairy Door. She's a big fan of fairies and magic anyways, so I'm excited to get the door set up for her!

And our final new favorite toy are Lincoln Logs! Emmalee was thrilled when they came in the mail and she started rambling on about how she has them at school, and what she likes to make, and was building a tree fort within minutes! 

I love how these toys all inspire my children to think imaginatively! I mean, they grabbed all sorts of toys, like Pikachu, Twozies, Gemlins, Paw Patrol, Shopkins, and Palace Pets to hang out in their Lincoln Log club house!

Which toy is your favorite?
And be sure to follow Emma's advice and thumbs up or subscribe to our NEW Youtube channel!

xo, Heather

August 11, 2016

A Back to School Carters Wishlist

I had to chuckle a bit when I found the most recent Kohl's catalog covered in highlighter circles. Emmalee decided to circle what she likes and wants to buy from it! Starting kindergarten is a big deal so I know I'll end up taking her out for a little mommy and me shopping time before the school year rolls around.

I love her sense of style. I'm all for female empowerment and girls can do whatever they want... but I also love delicate florals and sparkles, and love that Emmalee has a very feminine aesthetic.

Here's a few of her favorite pieces from Carter's for back to school!

We've always been fan of Carter's separates.  They go with everything! But sometimes we need a little help with the matching and I love these outfits, less than $20 on sale right now!

And how adorable are the dresses? Emmalee is such a girly girl and will live in dresses if given the opportunity.

I figure if we buy some thick tights, she can wear them all through the fall and winter with some great shoes.  She already has a few pairs of boots, but she really loved these ones on the site!

I know I'll be buying the floral terry dress and the fringe booties, but which are your favorites?

xo, Heather

August 10, 2016

It's National S'mores Day!

I really love the little holidays that aren't really holiday. I mean, you still have to go to work but it's usually an excuse to eat something super delicious or do something silly so I am completely on board with National S'mores Day!

We love s'mores. All s'mores. I literally feel like Bubba from Forrest Gump talking about all the ways I love s'mores.

I make myself laugh.
S'more are a family treat for us and the kids love them, but honestly, I'm not always up for building a fire outside in our fire pit everytime they want them so I was super excited to see Yummy Nummy Mini Kitchen Playset S'mores Maker at Sweet Suite during Blogger Bash. Check it out here on Amazon {aff}!

Isn't it adorable!?

National Smores Day

These mini sized s'mores are perfect for the kids and they love helping in the kitchen to make them!

You'll have to pick up a set and let me know what you think!
If you can't get to the store right now and still need a way to celebrate National S'more Day, try one of these delicious recipes.

easy indoor smores

This is the simplest! Use an oven safe dish and cover the bottom with mini chocolate chips. Cover with mini marshmallows. Pop it in a 350* oven for 15-15 minutes or until the marshmallows start to brown. use graham crackers to dip in and enjoy!

Another super easy one!
Make chocolate pudding according to directions on the box and divide into 4 serving cups.  Top with crushed graham crackers and mini marshmallows.

This is actually my favorite but requires a bit more prep work. 

Melt 3 tablespoons of butter over low heat on the stove and add in a 10 oz bag of marshmallows. Stir until everything is melted together.
In a bowl, combine 5 cups of crispy rice cereal and 1 cup of crushed graham crackers. Mix well.  Add melted marshmallow mixture and mix until all the cereal is coated. 
Roll out the krispie treat mixture. Use a cookie sheet instead of a 9 x 13" pan so you can get the treats very thin.
Spread marshmallow fluff all over the treats.
In another bowl, melt 2 cups of chocolate chips and pour over the fluff layer, spreading it with the back of a spoon.
Working quickly, roll up the treats (the long way), and put it in the fridge for an hour.
Remove from fridge and cut every inch to create little pinwheels.
They aren't the prettiest things but they taste sooooo good. 

How are you celebrating National S'mores Day?

xo, Heather

August 9, 2016

Our 6th Anniversary in Newport #LoveYourNewport #DiscoverNewport

Disclaimer: We were invited to Newport as VIP guests, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I really can't believe that David and I have been married for 6 years already. We've been through some tough times already, but we have the strongest relationship of any couple I know. We just fit with each other if that makes sense.

Last year was the first year that we took an overnight trip without children (yes, ever!) and as much as we love our children, the one kid free night was perfection.  We went to a concert and stayed in Boston, so we knew we wanted to do something similar this year. I was super excited when we were invited to visit Newport to celebrate this year!

We actually spent our honeymoon in Newport so it was that much better to go back to celebrate our anniversary. David's aunt came over bright and early to stay with the kids while we were gone.

We're lucky that Newport is only a 40 minute drive, so we can go whenever we want, but this time it felt special.

We started the day with a ride down Ocean Drive, a 10 mile stretch of road that runs along beaches, mansions, and Breton State Park.  It was so gorgeous I literally had to get out of the car just to snap some pictures and walk in the water. Had it been later in the day, we would have packed a picnic lunch and watched the kites at Brenton State Park.

vacation Newport ocean mansions beach Brenton Park

It was still too early for lunch so we stopped by Fort Adams, a gorgeous architectural masterpiece. While we didn't do a guided tour, we did stroll Bay Walk, a 2 mile walk around the perimeter. There were some more gorgeous views...

I really just love being in places that have gorgeous water views...

Newport is well known for it's gorgeous mansions so Dave and I made our way to Bellevue Avenue. We've been to the Breakers before, a summer "cottage" of 70 rooms... ha. It is one of the most opulent mansions and was owned by the Vanderbilts, yep those ones. It is gorgeous and I love it, but we decided to visit ones we haven't been to yet.  Our first stop was the Marble House. I love that there is free parking right across the street and we were able to get in quickly.

Seriously how gorgeous...

Newport Mansions Marble House Rhode Island

It's a self guided tour so we were able to go through it at our own pace. Did you know that Victoria Secret filmed their holiday commercial here? I could literally spend all day just staring at the art in this place.

I knew I wanted to go a couple mansions over to Rose Cliff mansion. It's a little special to me because it is the mansion used to film The Great Gatsby in 1974. I love Gatsby, like everything about Gatsby; it is my favorite book to teach. So I knew I had to stand in "Gatsby's Ballroom". It was everything I hoped for.

Newport Mansions, RI, Ballroom, Gatsby

We were really getting hungry after all that walking, so we made our way to the downtown area of Newport, along Thames. I love it there.  So many small shops and little restaurants with a water view every few steps. We wanted to be right on the water, so we stopped at Forty 1 North, a gorgeous grill literally on a dock in the water. 

When in Newport, you have to order a lobster roll, right? It was so delicious. Such large pieces of delicious lobster meat - yum! The view of the boats that were docked and a really yummy white sangria were all I needed to relax with David. 

We were still in our relaxing mode so we walked over to Bowen and Bannister Wharves and grabbed tickets for the Rum Runner II. It was originally built for people to literally run rum during Prohibition, it's now a great guided tour through Newport harbor.  Our captain and tour guide were amazing, pointing out mansions and great places to grab a drink at some of the mansions. 

I loved being on the water and wanted to get some more ocean views so we drove back to the mansions area to take a walk on the Cliff Walk. The Cliff Walk is a 3.5 mile path that runs between the oceans and the mansions.

We could spend all night there but I got a phone call about a former student that had passed away in a traffic accident and honestly, I just was out of sorts for a bit.  I felt so bad for David, since he kept trying to check on me and I kept throwing myself into my phone to try and make sense of it.  It's harder than I expected. But how do you make sense of one of your favorite students of all 4 years losing his life in a car accident? Our walk was short lived but I really wanted to see the sun set so we hopped in the car and went to the other side of Newport to grab a drink at The Lawn at Castle Hill. Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.  The Lawn is just that, a lawn. Full of adirondack chairs. We grabbed a couple drinks and settled in.  It was so perfect.  The sun setting, a good sangria, my husband holding my hand, and having those moments with just the water and the sky to process. I shed a few more tears but it was what I needed. Also, I asked Dave if we could live here but I got a big no...

drinks best drink in Newport sunset

After an amazing day, I was so happy we weren't driving the 40 minutes home and instead, had a hotel room for the night.

Even though we had no kids, we still ended up waking up at 7 am so we figured we would get a jump on the day.  Because it was so early, we were able to easily get metered parking on Thames. We grabbed some Starbucks, walked by the water and made our way to the Visitor's Center. We decided since our feet were still tired from over 20k steps the day before, we grabbed tickets aboard the Viking Trolley Tours.

It's an hour and a half ride and the driver brought us around the whole area, pointing out all sorts of things, like where Jackie married a Kennedy, the mansions, and some great lunch locations! It was really informative and so fun!

After the tour, we made our way back to the wharf and looked for lunch. There were so many options, it actually took us a while to decide on 22 Bowen's. We picked it because of the seating on the dock, overlooking the water, and the Rum Runner II!

During our lunch the tour guide from the Rum Runner actually saw us, waved, and made conversation across the water. Really shows how wonderful they are!

After our lunch, we decided it was time to start heading home. We wanted to make one more stop to check out Newport Storm Brewery.

I'm not much of a beer drinker so Dave will do a full post on it later, but man oh man, I was sold on this place. So much so, that we brought a bunch of beer home with us!

Getting home was so wonderful. I loved our time away, I mean, it was only our second time ever buuuut I did love it, although it was so good to come home to snuggles.

I can't wait to head back and I'm so happy that we were invited to spend such an amazing weekend in Newport. I've already had a handful of friends ask me for planning advice but for more information on lodging, dining, attractions, transportation and more, you can visit, check out the hashtags #DiscoverNewport and #LoveYourNewport on social media, or check out my Instagram for even more images of our weekend!

xo, Heather

June Books

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