Building Our Story

Friday, July 3, 2015

Easy Coconut Cream Mini Pies #recipe

I love preparing desserts for guests but recently our life has been on overdrive with work, family, birthday’s, events, blog work and LIFE.  So when I needed to make a dessert for a get together I decided to create something that everyone would enjoy and I wouldn’t have to slave over a stove/oven for hours to prepare. 

Disclaimer – as my husband has informed me – not everyone will enjoy this because he for some ODD reason feels the need to lie and say he is allergic to coconut just because he doesn’t like coconut!  HA!!  So, let me rephrase.  Anyone that likes coconut will LOVE this super easy dessert. 

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Mini Coconut Cream Pie

Free Printable Recipe Here.

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8 premade mini graham cracker pie crusts
1  5oz.  package vanilla instant pudding mix 
1 1⁄2 cups cold milk
1 1⁄2 cups flaked coconut
8oz.  Cool Whip, thawed

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1.      In a large bowl mix pudding and milk until pudding becomes thick, using a whisk.
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2.       Fold in 1 cup un-toasted coconut flakes.  Mix well.

3.       Fold in 1 cup of thawed Cool Whip.  Mix well. 

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4.       Pour mixture into mini pie crusts evenly.

5.       Refrigerate for 4 hours.
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6.       While waiting for pies to set you will need to toast the rest of the coconut flakes.  Set the oven to 250 degrees.  In a baking pan (I used a round cake pan) spread coconut flakes out.

7.       Let coconut flakes bake for 7-10 minutes.  Stir every 2 minutes.  Coconut should be light brown when done.
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8.       Once pies have set.  Put a dollop of Cool Whip on each pie.  Then top Cool Whip with toasted coconut flakes.

9.       Serve cooled – right out of the refrigerator.   Enjoy!

Aren’t these so pretty?  I am loving all of the mini pie options and this is one of my favorite so far!  So yummy and like I said – SUPER EASY!  Your guests will be asking for seconds. 

What is your favorite pie to make?

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Snow Mountain Ranch - Winter Park Colorado

Disclosure:  In return for our honest review my family and I were guests at Snow Mountain Ranch for a weekend of fun.  All opinions are our own.  

A couple weekends ago we took a family trip to beautiful Winter Park Colorado to the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA.  About 18 years ago I took my first trip to Snow Mountain Ranch for my 8th grade trip.  Honestly, all I remembered was the beautiful scenery, pool and roller-skating so I had no idea what to really expect for our family’s first experience.  Well, friends, let me tell you – our experience was so amazing that we have already started planning a trip for next summer!  I cannot wait to share this with you. 

What is Snow Mountain Ranch?

Located near Winter Park Colorado, Rocky Mountain National Park & Grand Lake; Snow Mountain Ranch offers a wholesome environment where friends, families & groups enjoy a tranquil setting, more activities than anywhere else & quality time together.

You can fill your day and nights at Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA with our programs and activities. Every season brings fun and excitement for the entire family. Whether you are looking for adventure or a relaxing stroll, we can set you on your way.

Activities at Snow Mountain Ranch:

Snow Mountain Ranch offers many activities on the property including hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, canoeing, zip lines, fishing, archery, climbing wall, crafts shop, mini-golf, swimming, both summer and winter tubing hill and more, making the destination an affordable and adventurous getaway for the whole family. (Most of these activities are included free for guests.)

We literally did everything possible in the 2 days we were up at the ranch.  I have decided that when we visit again we will need at least 4 days!  We all had so much fun but were totally exhausted by the time we left.  

Jude got to try the art of archery for the first time.  He and Jeremy took some time to go to a session while Teagan and I rested back at the lodge.  He did great!!  Jeremy said that he loved this and even got a couple of bulls-eyes.  The staff at Snow Mountain Ranch are always there to help you and your child learn new activities.   

Teagan loves the outdoors but tell her there are crafts to do and she is ready NOW!  This little lady needed a break from the heat and sun and we decided to head to the Craft Shop for some crafting fun.  The crafts do cost extra but are VERY affordable for families.  We had a great time painting and Jude did some leather stamping.  So many options for the kids to choose from too.    

We got to spend some time with a fisherman on the lake too.  The fisherman was very helpful and had everything we needed for a fun time trying to catch fish.  No license needed and poles and bait provided.  Nice for us for sure!   The fisherman was so kind and even caught a fish and let the kids help him reel it in.  

We headed out to the Rowley Homestead which is a historic homestead that dates back to 1919.  The kids really enjoyed looking at the old homes, tractors and even making their own walking sticks.  This was something I really enjoyed too - simply seeing a little glimpse into the world many many years ago is fascinating to me.  

When you visit the homestead, make sure you check out when they are doing live performances, we were not there during one but I would love to see that one day.  

It isn't a trip to the mountains with out a S'more!  Every evening the staff hosts a campfire and S'mores event around sunset.  It was a lot of fun to meet new people, stay warm by the fire and enjoy a perfect S'more.  

These campfire events are included in your stay at Snow Mountain Ranch.  It's these little things that are provided that really make this adventure even better.  I love how many activities are available for everyone to enjoy through out the day and are included in your lodging. 

Before we headed home we had to take a spin at the Tricycle Park.  This black top has been transformed into a fun track for tricycles.  They even included adorable street signs and streets for the kids to follow.  Teagan loved this!  

We also enjoyed the pool, rollerskating, hikes and a "Weird Science" class at the Day Camp building.  Like I said, we were on the go and loved it!  So much to do for every age group too.  

On top of it all - Jude, Jeremy and I got to try the newest activity to the ranch.  A Summer Tubing Hill!!!  (Teagan will be old enough to do this next summer). 

The Summer Tubing Hill at Snow Mountain Ranch is the only one of its kind in Colorado and one of only three in the US. I love that it’s an activity for all generations to enjoy, little kids to grandparents. 

Looks fun right!  It is so fun!  I am not much of an adventurer but I am so happy I did this with Jude.  We had a great time and I cannot wait to try it with Teagan.  I will be giving more details of this amazing activity next week.  Stay tuned!  

Snow Mountain Ranch is not just for summer!  Snow Mountain Ranch is a year-round destination and winter activities include dog-sledding, Nordicskiing, snowshoeing, sledding (on real snow!) and indoor activities like archery, climbing wall, roller skating, crafts center and more. Also, Snow Mountain Ranch is located between the alpine resorts of Winter Park/Mary Jane and Ski Granby Ranch for families interested in downhill skiing or snowboarding as well.

If you are looking for a day camp while in Colorado Snow Mountain Ranch has an affordable and convenient summer day camp on-site for ages 5-13 – like kids club. Kids can attend for one or two days or a full week.  Keep the kids busy and enjoy one of the more challenging hikes or mountain biking trails or just grab some grown-up time.  We all love some grown up time don’t we!?!

General Information:

Accommodations range from lodge rooms, cabins of all sizes, yurts and campsites in the summer and even 8 bedroom reunioncabins that sleep up to 40 guests – perfect for a family reunion or corporate retreat. Plus, YMCA of the Rockies has on-staff retreat specialists to help plan large events. There is also an Estes Park location which is the place to be in the fall to see the Elk up close. 

We stayed in the newly updated Indian Peaks Lodge.  This lodge is perfect for families like ours.  Enough space to sleep 6 and even has a mini fridge in the room.  So nice.  Each room also has it's own bathroom and shower.

The sitting space is also a fold out bed.  The deck, which I forgot to get a picture of is a nice touch to the lodge living as well.  Every morning before breakfast we would step outside and enjoy the fresh mountain air and gorgeous views.  We even saw a hot air balloon one morning!  

As you are preparing to plan your visit to Snow Mountain Ranch make sure you take a look at these great specials. The free breakfast for stays in lodge rooms, the Military Getaway Package and the YMCA membership discount will really assist in your planning and budgeting. 

FOOD!  If you are like me, you want to know all about the food options for your family while on vacation.  I must say, the  SchlessmanCommons makes dining and food prep so easy for families.  We were literally on the go the whole time we were at Snow Mountain Ranch which would have made food prep hard but we simply stopped in the Commons and enjoyed all 3 meals every day.  It was so easy and a great way to sit down and relax for a while as a family. 

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served every day in an all-you-can-eat buffet style dining hall.  Fresh salad bar, delicious desserts and homemade specialties accompany every meal.  Enjoy the majestic mountain views while dining with your family and friends.  Meals are available on a pay-as-you-go basis.  Buffet meals include salad bar, entrees, dessert and beverages.  Current hours and prices.

Our Review of Snow Mountain Ranch:

Both kids have asked us when we are going up to the “Snow Mountain” again.  We all had such a great time.  I have lived in Colorado my whole life and there is something about being up in the high country with family.  Memories are instantly made and even though we were literally on the go the whole time we were there it was still relaxing.  I know that we will be creating a family tradition of visiting Snow Mountain Ranch in the summer. 

Snow Mountain Ranch is such a hidden gem and such an affordable and easy getaway for families right here in Colorado.  A must visit for all ages!

Have you ever stayed at Snow Mountain Ranch?  Or another YMCA camp?

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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Budgeting Your Food Expenses While Traveling

Budgeting Your Food Expenses While Traveling

There are many expenses that are involved in traveling. The largest expense will be the cost of your plane tickets, assuming that you will be taking a plane to your destination. Transportation once you arrive at your destination must also be taken into account. One of the major expenses which many people do not stop to think about when they are planning their vacation is the price of food. This can be very significant, especially if you are bringing your entire family. You can do a DC hotel search online to see what the best deals are. Here are some of the best ways to use for budgeting your food expenses while traveling.

1. Whenever possible, cook your own food

If you are staying in a standard hotel room, with no kitchen area, this will be impossible for you to do. However, if you are staying in a room that is designed more like an apartment, use the stove and oven to your advantage. Going to the grocery store and bringing the food back to your place and preparing it yourself will be much cheaper than going to a restaurant every time you want to get something to eat. Even buying food from vendors on the street, while cheaper than a restaurant, is still more expensive than food purchased in a grocery store. 

2. Do not eat hotel breakfasts

This is always a good rule of thumb to have because the cost of breakfast in most hotels is quite high. That would not be so bad if you were actually getting your money's worth. However, the amount of food you get is not very much compared to the amount of money they charge for it. Your wallet will be much better off if you walk around the area of your hotel and find a local diner. The quality of the food will be much better, not to mention far less expensive. 

3. Make a food budget

You should try and plan how much you are going to spend on food each day during your trip. Try your best to stick to it, although this might not always be possible. There will be days where you will be doing more walking than others. On days where you are burning more calories, you will understandably need more food. However, you should still keep a close eye on the money you are spending on food to make sure your expenses do not spiral out of control during your trip.

4. Bring food on your trip

Another way for you to minimize food costs on your vacation is to bring your own food from home. There are many snacks that you can pack in your bags, without worrying about them going bad. For example, beef jerky, energy bars, granola bars, bags of peanuts and trail mix are all perfect travel foods because they come in small packages and can be carried easily while you are moving from place to place. 

5. Buy bottled water

One thing you will need to do in many countries is to buy bottled water. The water filtration systems in some countries are substandard, so you should never drink out of the faucet in your room. You should also avoid filling up cups with water from fountains at your hotel. Do not use the hotel ice.

What are your travel tips for saving money on food?

Disclosure:  This article was contributed by Fiona Moriarty of Hipmunk, a travel website that offers customers a fast and easy way to find the best travel deals.

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Enter the ArmorMax “My Dream Floor” Contest - Mohawk Flooring

Disclosure: This discussion is a sponsored campaign on behalf of Mohawk.

Who is looking to do some home updates this year?  We have always been a fan of Mohawk carpet but did you know they also have flooring that will make your space perfectly updated?  Check out this Dream Floor - I want!!!

The ArmorMax line of hardwood and laminate comes with a protective barrier to keep your floors looking newer, longer.  Rather than the traditional topical application, ArmorMax is built deep into the fibers of the wood; making it 5 times more resistant than similar finishes. Even better, they are made right in the U.S.  ArmorMax creates a barrier against abrasions, stains, and everyday wear which for a home with kiddos and pets is a must have!  Oh and I cannot forget this - a 50 year limited warranty on the finish! Yes, 5-0 years!!  

So, you want this now right?  Goodness knows we do!  And because Mohawk is so awesome they want to give you all the opportunity to win a Dream Floor!  One winner will receive $4,000 toward an ArmorMax hardwood or laminate purchase.

To enter My Dream Floor contest, visit the Mohawk Flooring sweepstakes here!  You will pick which ArmorMax floor is your dream floor and keep your fingers crossed. It’s that easy!!  Enter today!!  The winner will be notified on or around July 13, 2015.

Make sure you can share your dream floor selection as well as the contest with your friends on social media.  Wouldn't it be fun if you or one of your friends got to have a remodel!? 

Now - like I said, Mohawk is an amazing company so they want everyone to be a winner!  After you submit your entry for the contest, you will be prompted to fill out a form to receive an instant coupon for 10% off a purchase of ArmorMax hardwood or laminate, good through Dec. 31, 2015.  Woohoo!!  

Make sure you enter and stay connected with Mohawk flooring on social media:  FacebookTwitterPinterestInstagram, and Google+

So now comes the fun part - What ArmorMax floor is your dream floor?   My favorite is the Spiced Oak.  

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Wholesome Family Fun and Honey Maid Snacks

Disclosure:  This post is sponsored by Honey Maid. 

Traditions.  I love them!  Some of our traditions are tied around holidays and events but one of my favorite traditions is our 4th of July celebration.  Since we bought our home we always "host" 4th of July.  We always start our day out enjoying the pool in the backyard and end the evening by walking to the park for some fireworks with our family. Family for us has changed a lot recently, and our definition of it isn't always "real" family. Things change as we grow older and sometimes it becomes clear that everything changes but that doesn't mean our traditions are not wholesome.  

Just like these cute and delicious Honey Maid Teddy Grahams are holding each other's hands we do this with our family and friends.  Family comes in so many forms and during these holidays, like 4th of July, we open our home to our family - and although it isn't the "normal" family we are supported and support one another.  

Honey Maid agrees with us.  We are not broken - in fact we are more full and wholesome.  No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid provides wholesome snacks for every wholesome family.

While we enjoy our traditions we like to provide our guests and kiddos with some delicious snacks that we know are packed full of wholesome ingredients we can trust.  Oh, and the kids seriously love playing with these Teddy Grahams.  As I am packing up our bag for the firework show at the park I always pack little individual packs of the Teddy Grahams for the kids to enjoy as we wait for the show to start.  

The memories and fun that is had by everyone is something I sit here and smile about.  4th of July is an important day of celebration for our country and as we celebrate America we can also celebrate the changes in a traditional family.  We are not broken - we are wholesome!!  

I am already planning for our big 4th of July bash and know that since the kids are getting older and older we only start bringing more people into our wholesome celebrations.  I cannot wait to see what is in store for us this 4th of July!  Pool fun, backyard games, BBQ, wholesome snacks and fireworks! 

Our family is wholesome because we have chosen to pick our family and support and love one another as a family.  

No matter how things change, what makes us wholesome never will. Honey Maid provides wholesome snacks for every wholesome family.

Who do you consider to be a part of your wholesome family fun this 4th of July?

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TTC Should Be a No Brainer

Before I was married and even thinking of Trying to Conceive I always figured that the act of getting pregnant and having a child was an easy thing. Oh that would have been great if that was true! How many of you just rolled your eyes when I said that? Getting pregnant is supposed to be easy - it is science after all! HA! Experiences change every point of view and opinion.I have to preface this discussion and tell you all that I fully realize that while our TTC took longer than I ever expected I realize we are so blessed with two healthy pregnancies, deliveries and kiddos.

And now on to our TTC story. Like I said, I never thought that I would be tracking, testing and waiting as much as I did for 9 months prior to getting my first positive pregnancy test. Call me naive but I really wasn't at all worried about getting pregnant. Through our TTC journey we were tested. It was difficult at times but with the support of our family, friends and even some online forum boards I found a way to really focus on the science of TTC.

On the 9th month of TTC, I decided to test while I was at home by myself on a snow day - hello Colorado blizzard! When I saw that the test was positive I was so excited that I braved the crazy icy roads to head to the store to buy a fun baby pajama set to surprise Jeremy with it when he got home from work. Wow - I seriously remember it like it was yesterday and it has been over 5 years ago!!

Sometimes I look at my belly photos and miss it - and then I think about being outnumbered by kids to adults in our home and I totally shake that idea! ha! Once we felt like we were ready for baby number 2 I decided we had to get going on the TTC journey because I knew it would take months again.

Round 2 was different. I made sure my body was ready and I focused on the science of the process - yes so romantic! But it is real. With the help of charting, testing and the addition of Astroglide TTC™ I found myself testing positive after just 2 months of trying! I literally took 4 pregnancy tests before I told Jeremy because I couldn't believe it!

My life lesson here - count your blessings. I have seen so many of my friends struggle with infertility and I know how truly lucky we are to have only been in the TTC journey for a total of 11 months and ending with 2 healthy pregnancies and children. For those of you that think that the journey of parenthood is going to be easy - you might be surprised and when you are, start focusing on the science and invest in the Astroglide TTC™ to help the process along the way.

If you are on the Trying to Conceive journey make sure you check out Astroglide TTC™ - testimonials on Facebook and Pinterest!

Was your TTC journey an easy one or were you left surprised as well?

Astroglide TTC™ sponsored this blog post. The opinions and text are all mine

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Celebrating FIVE With Our Minion

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

It is so hard to believe that we officially have a 5 year old living in our house now!  I know, every one always tells new parents that it "goes so fast".  Well friends, those people were not kidding.  As the busy birthday weekend came to an end; a weekend full of Jude's birthday party, grandparents in town and a special trip to the mountains, we all felt the exhaustion kick in but we were not done celebrating our favorite Minion, Jude.

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I knew that Jude's birthday week and birthday party weekend would literally be BANANAS so I wanted to make sure that the four of us had some one on one time with Jude in celebration of his 5th birthday.  I decided that we would buy a few cupcakes from the Walmart bakery, save a small gift and enjoy a small celebration with our family of four once our weekend craze ended.  

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When I stopped in at Walmart I decided to go pick up a card for Jude.  He is really working hard at learning how to read so he has really be into trying to read cards.  Once I saw the Minion card display from Hallmark I knew I had to pick up at least one for Jude.  

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Well, I couldn't decide which one to buy so lucky Jude got two Minion clip greeting cards.  These cards are so cute and not only have words that our new reader can read but also a fun Minion clip that has now been attached to Jude's Taekwondo bag.  We love Minions in our house and cannot wait to see the movie!  

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This boy!!  His face says it all - Happy Birthday to our 5 year old!!  

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Even though we were all completely exhausted at this moment, it was the perfect time to regroup as a family and really celebrate the birthday boy.  

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Jude loved his cards and with our help he read it.  So fun to see that brain working.  Teagan has already asked us for her very own Minion card for her birthday - might need to run back to Walmart to just be prepared for October!  

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Isn't he cute!?  I love Hallmark cards, I am so old school when it comes to birthdays.  I am still a snail mail lover when it comes to sending birthday and holiday cards.  My go to is Hallmark, I am never disappointed in what I find and just like these Minion cards it is obvious that Hallmark is focused on the trends.  

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While I was preparing for Jude's birthday I also made sure I visited the $0.47 section from Hallmark.  Like I said, I am old school and know that my family and friends love getting a card in their mailbox rather than their inbox.  To do this I stay on budget by sticking to these budget friendly greeting cards from Hallmark.   I, not only, stocked up on birthday cards but found some thank you cards and "just saying HI" cards!  Added those to my giant book of cards! 

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Birthdays are so much fun!  I love spoiling and celebrating my kids during their special day and week!  Memories made!  And now, we sing the Banana song when we read this card...over and over and over again!  

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How do you celebrate your child's birthday?  Any special traditions?

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