Raising Monarchs: Our Family’s Adventure

I’ve always loved butterflies and teaching the girls the life cycle of a butterfly was seriously on like my top 10 reasons for homeschooling.

There are a million books, crafts and snacks having to do with the life cycle.

But actually watching one grow- that’s a little harder. Like A LOT harder than I thought it would be.

I was all, sure, let’s bring in some caterpillar eggs! Until NONE of them turned into a butterfly….cue new talk on death instead of a beautiful butterfly.

I bought milkweed plants from my local Lowe’s/ Home Depot and one more from my produce stand (which already had one caterpillar on it!)

I bought a mesh container for housing from Amazon, but for my first cats (butterfly lady speak for caterpillars), I used clear plastic cups from iced coffees, etc. and poked lots of holes in the top.

I have only collected (so far) much larger cats- they call them instars- 4th or 5th instars. They seem to be hardier.

I bring them in and put 2-3 milkweed leaves in with them to eat. Once they go through those, I clean out the frass (caterpillar poop) and give them new leaves.

Once they go into chrysalis (DON’T call it a cocoon!), ours eclosed right around 14 days.

After they came out, I waited 24 hours to release to make sure their wings were dry.

OH- and then there’s making sure the milkweed doesn’t get TAKEN OVER by aphids, aka disgusting yellow bugs that eat caterpillar eggs!

I’ve squished them (blech), sprayed the with water, insecticidal soap and in extreme cases (but also the most effective and quickest way), Sevin Dust. I’ve made sure there aren’t any cats on the plants when I use the Sevin.

I’ve also joined Facebook groups, where people have MUCH more experience than me and have been extremely helpful!

Life is All Rainbow & Unicorns

Birthdays are kind of a big deal for me.

So, this year, even though it’s not a milestone birthday, I threw myself (yep) a Rainbows & Unicorns pool party (my birthday is in the middle of summer).

First, I started a Pinterest board.

Unicorn door hanger, $3 Target Dollar Spot

IKEA

Unicorn Popcorn

Crescent Dog Twists

Unicorn Droppings
aka Jelly beans

Unicorn Horn Pasta Salad

Unicorn Bathing Suits, Target

Unicorn Wands

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1) Finding Unicorn/ Rainbow food that’s not candy/ donuts/ cake/ sweets is REALLY HARD! Here’s what I came up with:

Unicorn Horn Pasta Salad

Crescent Dog Twists 

Unicorn Popcorn (still had some candy drizzled on top)

Crescent Rolls with chicken salad

Unicorn Droppings (aka jelly beans)

Unicorn Farts were a huge hit with everyone at the party (cotton candy)

Unicorn Bacon was Airheads Rainbow Sour Belts

Rice Krispie Treats with Fruity Pebbles (LOVED this!)

 

I made my own shirt using my Cricut!

Unicorn wands made using unicorns from Amazon. I drilled 5/16 holes in them  and used skewers (think shrimp skewers). Then I tied ribbon around their tails.

Earrings: Amazon

Headbands: Forever 21, Target, Amazon

Cake & Cakepops: Petite Madalyns Bakery

Mini donuts: Remi’s Minis 

Balloons: Party Planet

 

From Pinterest Mom to a Do Less Mom

My New Year’s resolution this year was to DO LESS.

I pretty much felt overwhelmed every holiday, even small ones to make sure I was doing “enough.”

Enough crafts.

Enough themed meals.

Outfits.

Hair bows.

It was too much and I doubted that it was any fun at all for my girls. It also stressed me out.

So, instead of stressing out making sure I “did it all,” I just stopped doing it all.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I still go to Pinterest for ideas. But I don’t overload myself thinking we have to do them ALL.

For Valentine’s Day, I still kind of went all out. We did A LOT.

But for Dr. Seuss Day? We skipped school and went to Sea World.

I still packed some Swedish Fish and Goldish (One Fish Two Fish).

I even made Green Eggs and Ham candies with green M&Ms and pretzels.

The next day, they wore their Thing 1 and Thing 2 shirts, which we already had from our cruise. But that was it.

For St. Patrick’s Day? Emma didn’t even have a shirt. She wore a green horse one she already had and Addie wore a hand-me-down. They had headbands from last year.

We went canoeing.

I packed Lucky Charms as a snack.

Made Froot Loop necklaces.

Made a snack mix with some pre-made Muddy Buddies, green M&Ms and pretzel sticks.

And the girls painted rainbows that morning while I was packing.

We went to Beef ‘O’ Brady’s for dinner.

And that was it. And that was one of the best days we’ve had recently.

They didn’t need 20 different crafts. Or a Leprachaun trap. Or little footprints on the toilet.

They just needed us. As a family. Doing something fun.

 

Recipe Share: Sushi Bowls

My husband is Jewish from Brooklyn, so needless to say, his love of Asian food is real.

We eat at hibachi places, sushi places and get Chinese take-out.

And after being pregnant twice in two years and not being able to have sushi, my love for sushi has come back full force.

Sushi is expensive, y’all! So, I found this recipe  on Pinterest and decided to make it for our family!

We had most of the ingredients already: rice vinegar, sesame oil, avocado, cucumber, carrots, Sriracha, mayo, soy sauce

Like I said, my husband likes Asian

What I didn’t know how to make was sushi rice.

Oh, Publix Ethnic Food Aisle, you never disappoint.

I got two of these. They just need to be microwaved for 1 minute each! ONE minute!

I also got the Nori (seaweed) sheets in the Publix ethnic food aisle.

I picked up the crab meat from Aldi. They have two kinds: sticks and chunks. Either would work.

Once I microwaved the rice, I put it in a bowl and evenly divided the rice vinegar mixture over the bowls.

The rice vinegar mixture is this:

4 Tbsp of vinegar with the sugar and salt. Heat over medium heat, cook and whisk until sugar has dissolved.

Then, I arranged the avocado, crabmeat, carrots and cucumber on top of the rice.

Mix together the Sriracha and mayo, spoon over the top. Sprinkle Nori and sesame seeds on top and serve with soy sauce.

Enjoy sushi in your home WITHOUT spending a fortune!

Even Addie ate cucumber slices and crabmeat sticks with us for this dinner!

  • 2 containers sushi rice
  • 4 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp sriracha
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 10 oz imitation crabmeat (we call it crab with a K)
  • 1 1/2 cups diced cucumber (I used our mandolin slicer to julienne the cucumber)
  • 3/4 cup matchstick carrots
  • 1 nori sheet, crumbled into small pieces (add more if you’d like)
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • sesame seeds, for garnish

Recipe Share: Zucchini & Bean Quesadillas

This recipe has proved tried-and-true for our house.

I first made it TWO YEARS AGO in 2015. It was a HelloFresh recipe.

I had ordered a box when I knew my husband was going to be out of town.

This recipe was 30 minutes to make.

As a bonus, it was also meat free for Meatless Monday!

I still keep most of these ingredients in my house today (and when I have extra zucchini, I make either this or zucchini bread):

  • whole wheat tortillas
  • kidney beans
  • romaine lettuce
  • tomatoes (diced)
  • onion, sliced or diced
  • mozzarella cheese
  • cumin
  • zucchini
  • lime
  • jalapeño (I actually opted out of this, since we don’t eat peppers)
  • chipotle powder (we subbed paprika and red pepper for this last time)

I used my mandolin slicer, once I cut the zucchini in half length-wise, to make the half moons.

*I used my cast iron to make this recipe.*

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onion and season with salt and pepper, until the onion is translucent and soft. Place in a bowl and set aside. Next, cook the zucchini in the same pan until softened and slightly charred.

Return the onion to the pan, along with the kidney beans (drained), cumin, tomatoes and chipotle powder (or paprika and red pepper). If you are adding the jalapeño, add it now also. Once combined, place back in a bowl.

Make the lime creama (this is my FAVORITE part of this recipe and it’s SO EASY): combine sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt) and lime zest/ juice.

Wipe the pan clean with a paper towel.

Heat one tortilla, sprinkle half with mozzarella cheese, then zucchini/ bean mixture, and more cheese.

Fold over tortilla and turn.

Cook until cheese has melted.

Make the romaine salad: toss the romaine lettuce (thinly sliced) with lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Cut the quesadilla into wedges.

Serve with the lime creama and the romaine salad on the side.

ENJOY!

P.S. We make the kids just regular cheese quesadillas when we make this meal. Served with regular sour cream (Greek yogurt), not lime.

 

 

 

Indoor Family Picnic Lunch

We had our first “at home” day in a while this morning.

The girls played dress-up, Lincoln Logs, rode bikes and scooters, colored with chalk, played on the playground…

Meanwhile, I did a load of laundry and a load of dishes…

Fed the chickens. Rescued one of the chickens from being eaten by the dogs…

Fed the tortoise…

And when it was time for lunch, I started cutting up an apple and some cucumber slices.

On a cutting board.

Then I got the brilliant idea to put all of our food on the cutting board.

And just let everyone eat what they wanted.

Hence, the Indoor Family Picnic Lunch was born.

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What I Get At Aldi

I am just now jumping onto the Aldi train, but let me tell you I sure am glad I did!

I had been seeing my friends’ posts about it and I was always a little skeptical. To be honest, it seemed like one of the “cheap” grocery stores and I wasn’t sure it would have good, quality stuff.

Boy, was I wrong.

Since the girls have started school, I make one day a week my grocery shopping day. I plan out all of our meals on Sunday and usually do my grocery shopping on Wednesday.

My Aldi obsession all started with this lady. I found this meal plan and made almost everything on it.

I started with the Italian Beef. Then, the Snap Crackle Pop Chicken and then the leftover Italian Beef & Black Bean quesadillas.

Italian Beef

Since then, I have moved the majority of my shopping over there and here’s some of my favorite things I have discovered there:

Bread

  • Seedtastic is my everyday bread, I have one in the fridge and one in the freezer at all times.

  • Baguette
  • Plain Bagels
  • Brownies (I used to make the Raspberry Brownie Bites for Valentine’s Day)

Produce

  • Grapefruit
  • Apples
  • Oranges (Cuties)
  • Kiwi
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Strawberries (Which were LOCAL, btw! Plant City strawberries! What?)
  • Caesar salad mix
  • Tomatoes

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Valentine’s Day in the Silverstein House

The day of love has come and gone…

Here’s what ours looked like!

Crafts:

This year, we made Froot Loop hearts for the birds

“I Love You to Pieces” tissue paper hearts

AND I added in some school stuff too:

Homeschool:

Trace and color Hearts, ABCs with conversation hearts, name puzzles, and color matching with conversation hearts.

 

Food (Heart-shaped EVERYTHING!):

DONUTS!

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Birthday Party theme: Foxes

I still have yet to mail out Thank You cards from the party, but here’s my blog on it LOL

Our littlest one has been obsessed with foxes since Zootopia came out last year.

She even has a Nick Wilde sweater. She wore it to Animal Kingdom and scared Mickey Mouse pretending to be a fox.

So, a Fox party was definitely in the cards for her. Finding fox party decor, on the other hand, not so easy.

She started preschool at the beginning of the month, so every Wednesday and Thursday leading up to her party were used for shopping, ordering, crafting, etc.

I started by getting these at Walmart:

They ended up becoming a banner for the party, hot glued to twine.

Then, I headed to good ol’ Joann’s. I got felt for felt masks, fake flowers for headbands, orange and black card stock. You know, my supplies!

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Holy Moly!

It’s been almost two months since my last blog!

In case you can’t tell, we’ve been super busy!

Miss Addison turned 3 in January and we celebrated with a Fox birthday party in the park. And at Disney (of course!).

And we just finished all of our Valentine’s Day fun!

We are also participating in a hiking spree at the local parks. We have to finish 8 hikes by the end of march, so we’re doing about one a weekend!!

Eric and I also just registered for our first half marathon! We’ll be running the Disney half next January!

So I’ve been busy training for that as well. Here’s what my weeks have been looking like lately:

Monday– Hikes with homeschool group/ Busch Gardens/ Karate
Tuesday– homeschool testing/ Dance class/ Chick-fil-a/ tea party
Wednesday– school from 8:40-Noon/ all my grocery shopping done/ Karate
Thursday– school from 8:40-Noon/ run while the girls are in school
Friday– Friend’s houses/ play dates at parks
Saturday– Farmer’s market/ Home improvement store/ gardening/ family time/ date night
Sunday– hiking/ gardening/ Disney

What Mom’s week doesn’t look like that?!

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