America’s Top Dog

Did you catch the premiere of America’s Top Dog last week? If not, be sure to watch this Wednesday, 9 pm on A&E. As noted last week, this show is the Ninja Warrior show of the canine world, pitting regular dogs against police K-9s. Look for K-9 Simon and his partner Michael Garber when they … Continue reading America’s Top Dog


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Friday Funny: Dishwasher’s Helper

I only wish my kids would rinse the dishes well enough that my dog wouldn’t find this necessary. Have a great weekend! Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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Dog With Sign

Are you a on Instagram? If so, you may follow the popular memes presented under the handle DudeWithSign. The basic premise is that this guy goes around holding up signs stating common complaints, such as “stop sending confirmation emails when I unsubscribe” or “stop showing me ads for things I just talked about”. Perhaps it … Continue reading Dog With Sign


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6 Easy Ways to Refresh School Lunches in the New Year

This post is sponsored by Sun-Maid®, but all opinions are my own.

I have a love-hate relationship with school lunches.

As far as the ‘hate’ part goes, it’s somehow the one thing I forget to do during our hectic night time routine, and without fail, just as I’m finally ready to go to bed I remember I haven’t made lunches yet. Then there is the monotony. By December, I’m so fried from a combination of work overload, the holidays, and the kids’ activities that I’m on auto pilot with their lunches. I take the easiest route, throw in whatever we have, and pack the same thing everyday. And trust me, I hear about it from the kids. Sometimes I don’t even need to hear about it, because their lunch boxes come home barely touched.

There is, despite all of this, part of me that finds putting together school lunches really fun. I enjoy the creative aspect of it. And after a couple of weeks off from making them over winter break, I’m feeling refreshed enough in general that my motivation to create fun lunches has returned. I’ve also  recently discovered a few simple things that make putting together inspired lunches easy, and if all goes well, I’ll be able to carry this momentum through this second half of the school year. (Fingers crossed). Here is what works for me!

1. Create fun shapes.
My little ones are still young, but even if your kids are on the older side, it’s amazing what a cookie cutter can do. I bought several different shapes to use on sandwiches, cheese slices, and meats. I’m telling you, my daughter will scarf down a star shaped PB&J yet bring home an uneaten regular square sandwich. It’s amazing. (Bonus: you get to eat the pieces left over from the cookie cutters!) If you don’t have a cookie cutter, it’s easy to create a heart shaped sandwich with a knife.

2. Give lunch box raisins a sour punch.
Sun-Maid Raisins are a staple in most lunch boxes (since way back when I was a kid!), but when I discovered Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks at Target a few weeks ago and realized I could take the regular school lunch raisin up a notch (just like the lunches themselves!), I was stoked. As soon as my kids tasted them, they were stoked too! Made with whole fruits, Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks contain no added sugar, no synthetic colors, and are non-GMO and gluten-free. They’re also genuinely delicious and have become a go-to, better-for-you snack for everyone in our house. My daughter and I love the Strawberry variety, and my husband and son are mildly obsessed with Watermelon. The flavor is natural tasting and perfectly subtle, but with a fun sour punch. And they’re available now in the dried fruit section (and online!) at both Target and Walmart.

3. Kabob it.
Just like the star shaped sandwiches and cheese slices, if I give my daughter pieces of fruit on skewers rather than in a regular cup or bag, they’re devoured. And kabobs can be made from endless types of food. They’re actually quite fun to put together too. One of my son’s favorite after school snacks is mini kabobs we made from O type cereals and Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks on toothpicks.

4. Make food smile.
In addition to creating fun shapes out of my kids’ sandwiches, I like to give them an added bit of fun by making a simple face. Two Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks for eyes and a clementine orange slice mouth make a boring sandwich come to life. I also draw a happy face on a banana or orange with a marker and I’m telling you, it makes my kids so much more enthusiastic about eating their fruits and veggies.

5. Get the kids involved.
This is a win-win for me, because it solves the problem of me forgetting to make their lunches until right before my head hits the pillow, and because my kids tend to be more enthusiastic about choosing healthy foods and actually eating their lunches when they’ve helped prepare them. Essley gets a huge kick of cutting out her sandwiches with cookie cutters, and also loves choosing things like which flavor of Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks and what crunchy snack to include.

6. Switch it up.
I know what my kids like, and I know what foods are easiest for my to prepare, which makes it easy to fall into a school lunch rut. This ends up backfiring for all of us, because my kids get sick of eating the same thing everything, and I get sick of putting together cloned lunches. For the second half of the school year, I’ve been making sure to switch up their lunches everyday. This doesn’t mean I change everything I include from day to day (star sandwiches and Sun-Maid® Sour Raisin Snacks  are everyday staples), but I change out at least half of the items and try to include as much variety as possible in a given week.

I hope these tips for refreshing your school lunches prove as helpful for you as they have for me! And if you have any other tips or ideas, I’d love to hear them.

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Claudia, Queen of Ice Cream

Look who I met today! Claudia, a beautiful Rottweiler, agreed with me that a January day with temperatures in the 50s was reason enough to get some ice cream at Handel’s in Perry Township. Until next time, Good day, and good dog!


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Dogs + Winter Slush: How to Keep Your Car Clean

Unlike many parts of the country, we don’t have snow here in Central Texas–but we have had plenty of mud and even ice this winter. Day after day of cold drizzle has left a sloppy mess…



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GIVEAWAY: Win GROOM Bathing Tablets + a GROOM Pet Shower Head!

This giveaway is sponsored by and fulfilled by GROOM Bathing Tablets. Winter weather is in full swing now–and we all know what that means: itchy skin and soggy paws. Just like our skin dries…



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A Look Back At 2019 + Plans for 2020

A Stunning Midcentury Boho Style Living Room Reveal

Happy New Year! It’s my first post of the DECADE. Weird. Honestly, I feel like I could ramble on for days about how much has happened in the past ten years, and even in the past year alone. I spent part of last week in Denver and got to ring in my birthday (January 1st) AND this new decade with the friends in my life who I consider family, and there was a lot of reflection happening. In the past decade, I said goodbye to three of my closest friends who were also family, my stepdad Tom, my grandmother ‘Maggo’ (Essley’s namesake), and my ‘first born,’ Bubby dog, and went through the scariest period of my life as my baby fought and survived the most dangerous form of childhood epilepsy. I also married the love of my life, closed Mountains of the Moon (my eco-friendly clothing label of 15 years) and fell into a new career that I love and that helps support my family in ways I never imagined, bought our first home, and created the two greatest achievements of my life, Essley and Emmett. I am a completely different person but also the same, if that makes sense. I also started Bubby and Bean in the last decade (in late 2010), and it has evolved in ways I could have never imagined. Thank you all so much for sharing this journey with me.

While I don’t make New Year’s resolutions for many reasons, on January 1, 2019, I decided that I was going to be less hard on myself in general, and to learn to be content with my life and focus on gratitude rather than always trying to do MORE. We live in a culture where being busy and always having bigger goals is glamorized, and while I think evolving in positive ways is crucial, there is something to be said for just appreciating what you already have. In 2020, I plan to do more of this – both in my real life, and here on the blog and on my social media accounts. It’s very easy (especially for someone like me who tends to base my self worth on how much I achieve) to get caught up in the invisible ladder (to nowhere, let’s be honest) of the influencer world. I need more followers! I need more engagement! I need bigger partnerships! I need to get a book deal! I need prettier pictures! I need a nicer house in which to take the pictures! I need to do things to myself physically to look better for the pictures! No, no, and no. The truth is I’m happy where I am. I don’t need to get rich. I don’t need (or want) to be famous. My mediocre house on which we work very hard to improve for ourselves is plenty. My wrinkles and sagging skin and gray hairs are just freaking fine. I’m very content and grateful to get to do something I love that helps support my family. Yes, there are lots of exciting things I have to share with you guys in 2020. But I don’t need more more more. I’m good. I’m happy.

Anyway… Let’s get on to the point of this: my favorite posts of 2019. You can click on any of the images or the links below them to see the posts in full. Thank you for taking this look back with me!

8 Ways Coloring Helps Melt Away The Winter Blues

In January, I got personal and talked about my struggle with seasonal depression, and how I use things like coloring (yes coloring!) to ease anxiety.

In February, I shared our family room redesign reveal (as seen in top post).

6 Benefits of Reading to Our Children

Also in February, I talked about 6 benefits of reading to children.

A Spring Home Decor Refresh : All Under $  25!

I shared items to help give your home a spring refresh for under $ 25.

Salsa Verde and Black Bean Quesadilla Wraps

This recipe for black bean and salsa verde quesadilla wraps from April was one of the most visited food posts of 2019.

Also in April, I paid at visit to the most incredible vintage film fashion exhibit at Chicago History Museum, which focused on “the original influencers.”

In honor of Earth Day, I shared 8 household/parenting hacks that also respect the earth.

9 Stylish Hats Perfect for Summer

As usual, I had summertime on the brain in May, so I put together this round up of fun summer hats.

In June, I shared 5 tips for keeping your house clean during summer break.

These organic pineapple orange vodka refreshers were my favorite beverage during the summer of 2019.

In July, I shared 7 tips for conquering summer laundry.

10 Ways to Stay Healthy As a Family

August rolled around and I talked about 10 ways we stay healthy as a family.

Plant-Based Lunch-Kabobs, 2 Ways

These two plant-based lunch kabob recipes I shared in September were pinned on Pinterest more than any other recipe.

Classic Halloween Costume Ideas for Kids

In October, I shared some classic kids’ Halloween costume ideas (my fave!).

Pumpkin Coffee Cake

I talked about how to help feed hungry kids through Friendsgiving celebrations and shared our pumpkin coffee cake recipe in November.

Also in November, I talked about ways to encourage kids to tell their own stories.

Cranberry Cucumber Vodka Spritzers

These festive organic cranberry cucumber vodka spritzers were a hit around here this holiday season.

In December, I shared 10 tips for a successful holiday road trip with kids.

And finally, I shared this Polar Express inspired holiday Chex Mix recipe.

If you made it this far, thank you! I appreciate all of my followers so much, but I hold a special place in my heart for those of you who still read this blog (and blogs in general!). Blogs are the mother ships of social media, and I hope they never get drowned out by the fast/quick/easy pace of Instagram or Facebook or TikTok. If you still read, please comment below. It’s wonderful to see traffic coming here in my analytics, but I want to actually converse with you all as well! I hope 2020 brings you happiness, health, and all the goodness you deserve.

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Holiday Giveaway! $200 Gift Card to Gaia Conceptions Eco-Conscious Clothing

$  200 Gift Card to Gaia Conceptions Eco-Conscious Clothing

It’s the holiday season and I’m in the giving mood! So I’m getting together once again with our friends and long time Bubby and Bean partners Gaia Conceptions for happy holiday giveaway! One lucky Bubby and Bean reader will receive $ 200 to spend in Gaia’s online shop, which features endless styles of truly beautiful, completely customizable eco-friendly clothing made by hand in the USA.  As I’ve mentioned before, Essley and I are both proud owners of several their gorgeous clothing, and it makes me all sorts of happy to be able to gift one of you with some of your own.

GIVEAWAY! Win a $  150 Gift Card to Gaia Conceptions Eco Clothing


Use the form below, and/or, because the main methods of entering this giveaway (worth the most points) involve Instagram, you can also enter directly on IG, right here. There are several options for extra entries as well.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway will run through this Friday (December 13, 2019), and is open to Bubby and Bean readers worldwide. All entries from the Rafflecopter form above and Instagram will be combined. A winner will be randomly chosen and announced here shortly after the end of the giveaway.

Thank you to Andrea and friends over at Gaia Conceptions for giving our readers the chance to win another gift card to their amazing shop. Good luck!

UPDATE: Congrats to randomly chosen winner Dione L. Please check your inbox!

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The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

The Polar Express Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

This post is sponsored by General Mills, but all opinions are my own.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but when I think back to the holidays of my childhood, the memories that are most vivid are those involving family traditions. Those fun, festive activities we did together each holiday season felt so magical and full of light, and I knew from the moment my kids were born that I wanted to create memorable holiday traditions for them as well. Thanks to Chex™ cereal from Walmart I was able to do just that.

A couple of years ago, we started a holiday tradition where we make Chex™ Mix (if you’re a regular reader here then you’re likely well-aware of my affinity for Chex™ Mix) and watch a holiday movie together while we snack on it. This year, I decided we’d take our original Chex™ Mix recipe up a notch and create a sweet, very holiday-themed version inspired by our favorite winter drink (hot chocolate) and one of my favorite holiday movies, The Polar Express™. The kids and I had so much making this together, and the finished product is the perfect holiday movie snack; it’s like eating a mug of yummy hot chocolate with the most delicious crunch! It’s also a great snack to serve at holiday parties, or to pack up in cute cellophane bags tied with pretty ribbon to give as holiday gifts.


The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex Mix

INGREDIENTS
4 cups Rice Chex™ or Corn Chex™ cereal
4 cups Chocolate Chex™ cereal
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup hot cocoa mix
1 bag (12 oz) semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup white vanilla baking chips
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 cup semisweet chocolate nonpareils
1/2 cup crushed candy canes or peppermint candies (optional)

Line 2 large rimmed baking pans with waxed paper. In large bowl, mix cereals. In small bowl, mix powdered sugar and cocoa mix.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave semisweet chocolate chips uncovered on High 45 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, until chips are melted and smooth. Pour onto cereal in bowl; mix thoroughly to coat. Transfer mixture to 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag; add powdered sugar mix to bag. Seal bag; shake to coat. Spread in one of the pans to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

In small microwavable bowl, microwave white vanilla baking chips uncovered on High 30 seconds; stir. Continue microwaving in 15-second increments, stirring after each, just until chips are starting to melt and can be stirred smooth. Stir in marshmallows; coat completely. Spread in remaining pan, spreading mini marshmallows into small clusters; let stand about 30 minutes or until coating is set.

In large serving bowl, mix cereal, marshmallow clusters, chocolate nonpareils, and crushed peppermint candy. Store at room temperature in covered container.

TIPS:

  • Chocolate nonpareils come in a small and larger size, and either will work in this recipe. (We used the small ones.)
  • If melted white vanilla baking chips are too hot, you may need to cool slightly before adding marshmallows to coat.

All of the delicious ingredients in this recipe combine perfectly to create what my daughter has declared to be “the yummiest holiday sweet treat snack ever,” but the key ingredients are the Rice Chex™ (or Corn Chex™, if you prefer to use that variety) and the Chocolate Chex™. Rice Chex™ has been one of my favorite cereals since I was a child, and we eat it for breakfast regularly around here. (My kids love the way it tastes. I love that it contains no artificial colors or flavors, no artificial preservatives, no high fructose corn syrup, and is gluten free!) I only recently tried the Chocolate Chex™, but I was an instant fan. I love snacking on it as an after dinner treat, and it can be used for countless dessert recipes. (And like Corn and Rice Chex™, it’s free of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, contains no high fructose corn syrups, and is also gluten free. Woot!)

As much as we all love eating The Polar Express™ Hot Chocolate Chex™ Mix, the best part is making it together as a family. We put on holiday music, and the four of work together to measure the ingredients, stir and mix and create, and arrange in hot chocolate mugs to eat while we watch The Polar Express™ in our pajamas. It doesn’t get much better.

Head to your local Walmart or click here and stock up on Chex™ cereals for all of your holiday snacking needs. Happy holiday snacking and tradition making, friends.

NATIONAL LAMPOON’S CHRISTMAS VACATION, THE POLAR EXPRESS © WBEI. A CHRISTMAS STORY © Turner Ent Co. ELF © New Line Prod. Inc.

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Bubby and Bean ::: Living Creatively

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