Margarita Mama

Healthy kid lunches

Posted by on Jan 3, 2015 in eating/food, Featured, Food, Health, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, school | 6 comments

Now that the new year has begun, I’m ready to detox a bit from all the holiday treats and sweets that surrounded us the past few weeks and get back in the school-days routine.

In our house, a good part of this will include planning out our family’s lunches so that mom and dad are not grabbing something unhealthy in a time crunch and that Ava will find her meal delicious and filling. (The twins are still eating daycare-provided lunches, so they’re all set during the week.)

Photo courtesy of the Sells Agency

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

Ava would eat the same thing every single day if I let her. Her palate is generally limited to Lunchables or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, with either an applesauce GoGo Squeeze or a yogurt tube. So I’d like to get her to branch out a bit.

Every once in awhile, I can sneak in a pasta salad of some kind or cut up squares of cheese pizza. Maybe even a bagel. But we could use a spark of inspiration.

Here’s a few handy tips on healthy kid lunches that QualChoice of Arkansas has offered:

PORTIONS: The USDA recommends tennis-ball sized portions of vegetables and whole grains, golf-ball sized portions of fruit and lean protein, and a pink pong ball portion of low-fat dairy. (Prepackaged items can often be a little more expensive, but I’ve come to realize that the portion control and ease of packing is a good tradeoff.)

Photo courtesy of the Sells Agency

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

PRODUCE: The great thing about fruits and veggies is they deliver lots of nutrients and they don’t require cooking. It’s best to keep produced washed and cut in the fridge so there isn’t a lot of prep work. Great options for this are: cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks, cucumber slices, berries, apples, pears and grapes. (Ava always loves her carrot sticks with a little cup of ranch dressing.)

veggie ideas

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

WHOLE GRAINS: For a crunchier side, pack multi-grain chips or pretzels instead of potato chips. Whole grain pita pockets and tortillas are also a great alternative and are easy to fill with lunch meats, salad mixes and more.

Photo courtesy of the Sells Agency

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

PROTEINS & DAIRY: Proteins come in many forms – not just meat. You could pack a  wrap or sandwich with lean turkey, or you could include a hard-boiled egg. Also, sharp cheddar cheese and Greek yogurt offer a great source of protein and dairy.

Photo courtesy of the Sells Agency

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

HYDRATION: Instead of juice boxes, include a small bottle of frozen water. The ice will keep the rest of the lunch cool, and will melt enough by lunchtime to be drinkable.

Photo courtesy of the Sells Agency

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

SNACKS: After school or on the weekends, healthy snacks can help curb overeating later.  Pack a baggie of popcorn for a 100% whole grain snack, or try almonds mixed with dried fruits, whole fruits or pretzels.

Photo courtesy of the Sells Agency

Photo courtesy of QualChoice/Sells Agency

Happy lunching out there! And if you have more ideas or handy tips, I’d love to hear them. Please share!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Marvel Universe LIVE giveaway

Posted by on Dec 27, 2014 in Activities, Giveaways, kid stuff, Margarita Mama | 16 comments

Marvel Universe LIVE is about to roll into the Little Rock area, and we’ve got a family four-pack of tickets to give away!

Spiderman

The original story brings together more than 25 Marvel characters on a quest to ensure the safety of the powerful Cosmic Cube, which Thor has shattered into pieces and which his villainous brother Loki covets.

The all-ages show promises to be action packed — featuring special effects, pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, martial arts and even motorcycles.

Captain America

It’ll be at Verizon Arena from Jan. 9-11. Times and ticket information are available HERE.

For a chance to win our family four-pack, provided courtesy of the Angela Rogers Group, leave the name of your favorite Marvel character below. I’ll draw a winner at 5 p.m. Jan. 2, so don’t wait!

Christmas menu

Posted by on Dec 22, 2014 in Christmas, eating/food, family, Food, holidays, Margarita Mama, side dishes | 3 comments

As we have several branches of family to celebrate holidays with, we have forged a tradition of having a big Christmas Eve meal at our house. We get plenty of ham and turkey this time of year when we travel to see other family, and I’m from a state where beef reigns supreme. So we go with standing rib roast for what is clearly our most luxurious home-cooked meal of the year.

standing rib roast

Meat for 8 people

SimplyRecipes.com has an outstanding Prime Rib Recipe that includes gravy directions. And let’s just say that if you’re going to go this route, get more than you think you’ll need. (The leftovers make excellent with sandwiches with onions, peppers and provolone.)

There’s no need for dressing with this Christmas menu, but mashed potatoes are a must. And I’ve found that Martha Stewart is my spiritual match on this issue — no joke. I promise that if you try her recipe for Perfect Mashed Potatoes, you won’t go back. I use a ricer for mine, too. Absolutely no lumps.

On the side, we’ll have honey-glazed carrots and brussels sprouts with bacon and pecans.

prepping brussels sprouts and carrots

Veggies, ready to prep

I’ve been toying around with the carrots for awhile now and have finally figured out perfection. Cut the carrots into small coins and put into a baking dish. Then add several pats of butter, no fewer than five liberal squeezes of honey and a light dusting of salt, pepper and cayenne. Bake at 425 degrees for about 45 min.

Accidentally, I wound up this weekend with a stalk of fresh brussels sprouts so huge that it wouldn’t fit in our fridge.  I decided to jump ahead and prep them up by cutting them off, chopping them in half and steaming them for about 10 minutes. Now, all we’ll have to do is cut bacon into small pieces, cook them in a large pan, dump in the brussels sprouts to reheat and coat them in bacon fat, and add in as many pecans as we’d like. Salt, pepper, done.

I’m not much of a baker — and I usually spend my efforts there on cookies for Santa. So for dessert, I hit up Fresh Market. (Where I would hide in a corner and live, if I could. All that peaceful music, and beautiful things everywhere. It’s a dream world.)

yule log from Fresh Market

yule log, the most festive dessert for Christmas

Yule Log is my husband’s thang, you might say. It’s basically a super moist and rich chocolate cake with chocolate  icing rolled on the inside as well as on top. Big glass of milk required.

And that’s it! I hope you all have a delicious holiday meal in some form or fashion. Food is love, especially on a holiday.

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

An Hour of Code

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Activities, Ava, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, school | 3 comments

I was thrilled that my sassy little bit came home last week asking to play on Code.org after Ava’s school and many others held an “Hour of Code” during Computer Science Education Week.

Hello Kitty glasses

Ava looking smart in Hello Kitty glasses

If you haven’t heard about it before, this the mission stated on the Code.org website:

Launched in 2013, Code.org® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.

While that may sound intimidating, these people clearly know how to get into kids’ heads and work with them. (Note: Although there are several options to try, Frozen still rules the world.)

Elsa and Anna on Code.org

Early readers like my first-grader will probably need a little help going through the steps. And an hour is a really long time to hold a young child’s interest in anything.

But there are options for different age groups, the steps can be done in pieces and the point is really to introduce something that many children would not otherwise experience. So even just checking it out and paging through it a bit to see what happens is pretty cool.

Give it a shot!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Home for the holidays fashion

Posted by on Dec 5, 2014 in Christmas, holidays, home, Margarita Mama, shopping, The Promenade at Chenal | 6 comments

With only a few weeks until Christmas, it’s time to get decorating and make things warm, cozy and welcoming for family celebrations and other guests.

I’ve been out at the Promenade at Chenal quite a bit lately, and I’ve seen all kinds of things that can help finish up those holiday preparations.

The brand new Home Goods store is packed with goodies. There are so many things to fall in love with that it’s hard to choose just a few. I especially adored these boxes that could pull double duty as decor or gift packaging. They’re a steal at $5.99, $7.99 and $9.99.

Santa's Workshop boxes

reindeer wreatj

Wreaths in various sizes and prices

Home Goods barware

A decanter and cocktail shaker to covet at $12.99 and $16.99, perfect for Christmas parties involving bigger crowds

Nearby at Sleep Number — a store you might not think of dropping into — there’s some truly beautiful bedding. And my fave, a super soft cranberry-colored throw blanket that’s got a touch of seasonal sparkle.

Smart Classics plush throw

Smart Classics plush throw, $39.99

A stop into Tipton Hurst is sure to get your Christmas vibes going. Nearly every inch of the store is stocked with something beautiful, and it’s hard to choose just a few things to buy. Everything is so pretty and sparkly!

Hundreds of beautiful ornaments

Hundreds of ornaments in every color you can imagine.

Santa and snowman

Sweet Santa and snowman decor

Holiday accents

Holiday accents to fit every theme

Anthropologie is a perfect place to drop in if you’ve got company coming and you want to find a few small touches to make people feel at home.

Seasonal candles to warm up any space, $18

Seasonal candles to warm up any space, $18

Gorgeous soaps, perfect for guests, $8

Gorgeous soaps, perfect for guests, $8

Another new store, Mrs. Polka Dot, has plenty of things to round out your party setup.

Mrs. Polka Dot's Christmas collection

Just a bit of Mrs. Polka Dot’s Christmas collection. Personalized plate, $29

tea towels, bowl

Reindeer tea towels, 2 for $16, and bowl with spreader, $14

Happy shopping everyone! If you have any tried-and-true tips for making guests feel at home — or even just making your home feel like Christmas for your own family — I’d love to hear them.

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

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Note: This is a compensated post. However, all opinions are my own, of course.

The Promenade at Chenal

It’s Elf on a Shelf time

Posted by on Dec 3, 2014 in Activities, Ava, Christmas, holidays, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, twins | 1 comment

Elfie has returned! (Probably a few days later than most of the rest of the Elf on a Shelf dolls of the world.)

Elf on a Shelf, having fun

Elfie, our Elf on a Shelf

Yes, it’s a little creepy. And kind of a pain to keep up with. But last year I gave in after quite a bit of begging and arranged for a Santa to send us one of his magical behavior-reporting elves for the season.

However, I don’t go all out with this gig. Our Elf on a Shelf mostly does lame things like ride the banister. Or hang on a doorknob. Or show up sitting near the bathroom sink. This cup gig is about as creative as it gets.

You know what? They love it all the same. Ava, Kayla and Kendall will all jump out of bed and go running to see where Elfie has popped up.

No need for fancy, Pinterest-worthy arrangements. (I can’t bare to waste all those marshmallows people use in making those cute setups!!)

Besides, it reminds us all that there should be a little magic in Christmas. A little wonderment. And a lot of love.

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

The long weekend

Posted by on Nov 30, 2014 in Activities, Ava, daddy, family, holidays, kid stuff, Margarita Mama, shopping, Thanksgiving, The Promenade at Chenal, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Well, that holiday didn’t quite go as planned.

We had planned a Thanksgiving meal with relatives and then a smaller celebration at home afterward. Instead, Kendall woke up in the middle of the night with a raging fever, and began purging her insides out first thing in the morning.

Daddy fled the house with the other girls to the lunch destination, while Kendall and I hunkered down for 48 hours of living in the Hot Zone. It wasn’t pretty, and  I nearly took her to the hospital since she couldn’t keep down anything at all and seemed to be getting worse. Somehow on Day 3, it all stopped. And for that, we were thankful.

After she rested most of the day Saturday, we knew we had to get out for just a few minutes to get everyone some fresh air and de-crankify. Fortunately, we were right on time for the Promenade at Chenal’s tree lighting ceremony, which I figured would help us get back in the right spirit.

Believe it or not, this is the best Santa visit we've had yet, even though Kendall was exhausted and crying

Believe it or not, this is the best Santa visit we’ve had yet, even though Kendall was exhausted and crying

These sweet kids handed out teddy bears from Bale to kids visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus

These sweet kids handed out teddy bears from Bale to kids visiting Santa and Mrs. Claus

Clearly, we weren’t up to the shopping I had planned to get done this weekend. I’ve never actually gotten to go Black Friday shopping — ever. And clearly, that streak was unfortunately unbroken this year. To appease Ava, who had been looking forward to starting in on our Christmas list together and who was an extremely good helper through all this, we ducked into Crazy 8 and got her a new dress off the clearance rack. (And ran into Ava’s kindergarten teacher and her adorable kiddos!)

But we at least got in one cute family pic with the Christmas tree with everyone managing a smile before we had to run back home.

A family selfie

A family selfie

Wishing you happy holidays and good health!

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Holiday activities in Little Rock

Posted by on Nov 25, 2014 in Activities, Christmas, holidays, Margarita Mama, The Promenade at Chenal | 1 comment

xoxo,

Margarita Mama

Family pizza night

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in daddy, dessert, eating/food, Food, home, Margarita Mama, Uncategorized | 3 comments

You’ve heard happy wife = happy life, right? Well, I’ve got the real secret to marital bliss and family harmony.

Marry a pizza guy.

When I met Daddy, he was a pizza delivery driver. Shortly thereafter, he regularly wooed me with perfectly placed toppings brought straight to my door.

And he’s still got skills — they especially come in handy on dreary nights when it’s too cold to go out.

pizza daddy skills

Daddy’s got mad pizza skills

I mean, really. Look at this beauty (or what’s left of it, anyway):

pizza night

Oh yeah. That’s half pepperoni with cream cheese (a Nebraskan special) and half pepperoni, ham and onions

No one turns this dinner down. Especially when they get to help make their own. (Cheese only, obviously.)

pizza kids

Pizza lovin’ kids

Last but not least, this.

dessert pizza

Brown sugar cinnamon dessert pizza with a scoop of vanilla

It’s pure love. Family pizza night rocks.

xoxo,

Margarita Mama