Tuesday

14 After School Snacks {That Look Like Little Creatures}





After school snacks are a huge struggle. What I've figured out this this: the cuter the snacks are, the better chance I have of Luka eating them. What little boy wouldn't want to eat food that looks like bugs and other tiny creatures?

These ideas use most things that you already probably have on-hand in your kitchen, like hot dogs, raisins, carrots, and peanut butter. Have fun with your kiddos making and eating these creatures. You can find more fun ideas like these on my Pinterest Board called Kids Eat This.

I wanted to make a collection of easy ideas to refer to for the school year, which started last week. Easy things. Cute things. Things that Luka might actually eat after school.

This Collection of After School Snacks That Look Like Little Creatures was made using Foodie.com, which is a unique recipe collecting platform, kind of like Pinterest. They are sponsoring this post and this collection that I'm sharing with you. You can sign up for Foodie.com and follow me as I build interesting recipe collections. I'll follow you back if you do!

Check out After School Snacks {That Look like Little Animals}
by Lea Ann Stundins at Foodie.com


This collection of 14 little creature after school snacks ideas includes:
Cheese Wedge Mouse: A fun new way to eat your Happy Cow cheese wedges.

Creepy Corndog Centipedes: Add legs to your mini corn dogs and watch 'em walk off the plate.

Garden Octopus: A veggie and dip combo that will get lots of giggles.

Apple and Celery Tasty Bugs: Turn peanut butter celery into bugs and snails.

Swimming Fishies: Sandwich snack time has never gone so swimmingly.

Green-eyed Kitty Sandwich: Meow! This cat's where it's at.

Clementine Chicks: Peel and Peep!

Fruit & Cheese Butterfly: Even little fingers can fill these wings.

Crabby Crabwich: Cutest croissant sandwich ever made.

Penguin Appetizers: What's black and white and delicious after school?

Hotdog Caterpillar: Turn a hot dog into a bug? Absolutely.

Chickie Eggs: The cutest hard-boiled egg your kids will ever eat.

Cheese Mice: A few simple ingredients and you'll have a cute little mouse in your house.

Ladybug Tomatoes: Cherry tomatoes make perfect little ladies.

About Foodie
I hope you have fun making school night dinners with your kids, with one of these interesting recipes. If you've got a neato recipe that your kids love, please leave a link in the comments, so we can all share! Download the Foodie app here and you can find lots of interesting recipes collected by bloggers like me, and the Foodie editors!



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Mommy's Wish List Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Foodie.com via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Foodie.com.

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Sunday

Our Top 5 Favorite Cheese Boards



If you've been following along with #indefinitecheeseboards on Instagram, my friends and I do a cheeseboard every Monday night. We are the Council of Indefinite Cheeseboards. At that link you can see some of the cheese boards from restaurants around town, in case you are also cheese board lovers like we are, and want to see what "IN" on cheeseboards these days. It's named "Indefinite" because Elysa set up a calendar invite for every Monday from now until eternity. They're that good.

We've been to a whole lot of places in Dallas trying to discern what exactly should be on the perfect cheeseboard. We've seen everything from quail eggs to pickled carrots. And lots and lots of cheese.



Cheeseboards are the new "IT" appetizer.
In case you haven't noticed it yet, let me point out that every restaurant I go to seems to have a cheeseboard on the menu now. You can add some pizzazz to your next party at home with a fun cheese board. This appetizer idea would be great for many occasions such as house parties, BBQs and picnics, or even just a girls night in.

Our Indefinite Cheeseboard Council will be having a girls night in soon, and an unbelievable Brisket Cheesecake will be the main attraction. I KNOW! Brisket. And cheesecake. Together.

What Makes a Good Cheeseboard
Cheese of course. Three is a good number. Have a creamy one like a triple cream brie, a hard one like a manchego, and a wild card like a bleu cheese.

Fruit is an excellent companion to cheese. Slice an apple, add dried apricots and cranberries. Strawberries or raspberries. Even fig jam is great with cheese.

Veggies like carrot sticks, sliced cucumbers, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, and those cute little pickles called cornichons are favorites of ours. Heck, pickled vegetables of any kind are delicious with a cheeseboard.

Crackers, tiny toast, fried bread...you need something to pair with your cheese. And how many times do we fuss about the cheese/cracker ratio? Almost every time. It rarely works out just perfect.

Little extras like a dollop of grainy French mustard or tiny pickled quail eggs, even some charcuterie like prosciutto, pepperoni or some such fancy meat with make your cheeseboard a stunner.

And please don't forget the wine.

The perfect Cheeseboard Starts With the Perfect Board
What we think is that the perfect cheeseboard should start with the perfect board first, right? Here's a few lovely ones we've discovered. I would secretly like to have a slice-of-tree cheeseboard as my own personal cheeseboard, but am making do with this one until I can hire a Boy Scout group to make me one.



Consider adding a cheese board to your gift list during the holidays, either for yourself or for the cheese connoisseur in your life. Viva les fromages!

Hip Vintage Piggy Cheese Board, $50.76 - Oink oink! This little piggy awaits your next cheese-tasting party. It's made from marble and granite, so the heavy dish is perfect for outdoor parties and won't flip over from any wind interference. No supplies included here, but this board is a novelty!

Gourmet Wine & Cheese Board, $49.50 - If you're looking for a package that includes the combo of wine and cheese (and the cheese board of course) look no further. We found a delicious assortment of savory edibles in addition to an attractive board and cheese knife.

Pear-Shaped Cheese Board, $44.95 - This swivel-style board in the shape of a pear comes with two knives, one cheese fork and a wine stopper (that'll come in handy!).

Dallas Cowboys Circo Cheese Board, $32.49 - Root for your hometown football team with a cheese board dedicated to them. Obviously you'll need some BLEU Cheese on this one. The Dallas Cowboys board will make a great addition to your watching parties this fall. The board is compact and made with eco-friendly rubberwood. Four utensils are included.

Picnic Time Mariner Cheese Board, $30 - Land ho! Here's an excuse to plan a fun sailor-themed party. The four utensils included can be stored within the board, and you can spin it like a Lazy Susan.



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8 Clever Supplies for Your Office Desk



"I want your job to be your refuge from your life."

 My CEO said that to me recently. I took that to mean that I should dig out all my Animaniacs toys from the early 90s and decorate my desk. I dunno, I feel especially motivated by tiny critters that say "HELLOOOOO, NURSE!" and "NARF!" don't you?

Also, I like to pin all my "meeting notes" on my wall.

Jazz up your office desk with unique and inspiring items, and I promise you'll feel happier when your favorite, colorful items surround you.

How to Accumulate Just The Right Office Decor
1. When your personal favorite cartoon is licensed to McDonald's for Happy Meals, eat a happy meal for lunch every day til you have the whole collection. (How do you think I got the Animanics toys, y'all?)

2. Go check out Tuesday Morning or Michael's. I have found some pretty darn cute patterned office supplies for fairly cheap at both of those stores. Nothin' like a matchy-matchy paisley stapler and file folders, eh?

3. Go retro: visit vintage stores, garage sales, heck, even your parent's attic and find some amazing treasures to glam out your office, vintage style. Take a page from the book that is my friend Melody's office, er, classroom. She's the queen of kitch…she even had her office radiator sweater bombed.

4. Pick a team, and go all-out. Sure, I went to art school. We have no team. We don't even have colors. But, my office mate Valerie has decided that I should adopt the Baylor Bears, her alma mater, as my team. She even went so far as to drive me to Baylor so I could see THE BEAR. They have a bear on campus, people. A real live bear.

5. Here are eight clever products we rounded up that can help you create a functional and stylish work space. Feel free to customize these items with your favorite colors, patterns and sports teams.

Get-Spotted Note Card from Michaels, $47.99

Fashion Pencil Cup from Staples, $5.99

Gumball Desk Lamp from Urban Outfitters, $69.99

WallPops 4-Piece Calendar Set from Staples, $22.99

Teal Appeal Notepad from BooksAMillion, $3.14

Bridgette Business Card Holder from The Pflatzgraff Co, $16.99

Baudville Hardcover Journal with Pen from Staples, $14.49


Memorex EB60 In Ear EarBuds from Staples, $17.99

Email readers, click here to see the roundup.

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Wednesday

How to Teach a Kid to Drive





The past 17 years, I've been watching this boy grow up. Just yesterday he was in the back seat telling me stories...turning classical instrumental music from the radio into an hilarious narrative by describing what he was hearing. Telling me what the shape of the bird poop on the window reminded him of. Now he's in the front seat, driving me around. Driving his little brother around. Driving, y'all. DRIVING.

It does seem like the last big pragmatic thing I've got to teach him about how to take care of himself. It's both a sad and a proud moment.

And he's more than just driving his car now, he's driving his own life. Without me.

It's freeing but at the same time there's the empty feeling of not being needed anymore. It was the one last thing he needed me for, and now he doesn't seem to need me at all. I've had to teach him all the things he needs to know to be independent – and now he is, dang it.

It Takes a Village
Being the parent of an almost-gone child leaves me feeling a bit unnecessary. I am still a mother, but not in the caretaker sense of the word anymore. It's more of just a figurehead title now, instead of a description of what I do. I rely on my good friends Sheri, Melody, and Chris to talk me off the ledge every weekend at coffee. They help me try to come to terms with my old new self.

It not only takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to teach the child's mother that they have purpose beyond just being a mother.

I don't know what I'd do without their advice, their group problem-solving on my behalf, and their support. What I've learned from my best friends and other lovely Oak Cliff neighbors is that it's perfectly normal to feel unnecessary when you have such a responsible teenager. It stinks, but, it's normal.

We discuss this big life changes and more every weekend at our neighborhood coffee shop. If you have a problem that needs solving, you know to just show up for the "Housewives of Oak Cliff" coffee on Saturdays and Sundays at Bolsa Mercado.



Teaching Quinn to Drive
So this past year, I taught Quinn how to drive a car. Really, mostly he did it himself, and I just sat back and watched. He researched how to get a learner's permit on-line, and figured the whole process out. He scheduled his own appointment at the gigantic driver's supercenter in Garland to take the written test. It's one of the last things I had to drive him to. He took care of getting his transcript and all the other necessary paperwork, and even paid the fee on site in cash using his own money.

After securing his learner's permit, he printed out a schedule of what he needed to learn based on the actual driving test. Then, we methodically tackled each driving task, practicing until he mastered it (which as I was not surprised) did not take him very long at all. This seemingly Herculean task included parallel parking. My friends suggested I set up trashcans a car length apart in front of my house and have Quinn parallel park in that space between pretend cars. And that worked very well.

Turns out Quinn drives like he does everything else...methodically, unemotionally, rationally, intelligently. And quickly. I don't mean he drives quickly, I mean he quickly figures out the best way to drive, the safest methods, the best routes, the strategies for defensive driving. My friends have known Quinn since he was a preschooler and Melody was confident he'd be just like that. She was right.

Over the course of his junior year, last year, we drove every weekend. I'd ask Sheri about the different things she taught her son when he was learning to drive, so I wouldn't forget anything: highways, at night, in the rain… all three of those at the same time. I was trying to cover every possible driving scenario, so he'd have experience in every situation.

My Best Parenting Advice
When you slowly teach a child to do something big and important and take the time to let them master it over and over until they feel comfortable, they will always succeed. It's when we just throw them into the deep end of the pool and say "sink or swim" that we set them up to fail. Taking the extra time to teach them and help them become an expert themselves is worth it for both of us.



State Farm is the kind sponsor of this blog this month, and of this conversation. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there. You can find State Farm on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Subscribe to Mommy's Wish List by email for tips on strategic shopping, open-minded parenting, being creative and other important things like making a quick dinner when you hate cooking.

Mommy's Wish List Disclosure: Compensation was provided by State Farm via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of State Farm.
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