Melissa Kaylene: November 2013

Saturday, November 30, 2013

How I Keep My Kids Active in the Winter

It's that time of the year again.
Rainy season.
Here in Oregon we are used to the normal "drizzle" - but when the weather gets colder and rain gets heavier, we all tend to stay indoors more - including the kids.
My kids are pretty darn active, and seem to get along better together and just be altogether happier when they have physical activity.
Soccer kept up busy in September and October, but for right now only Anika is the one in sports doing basketball practice and games three times a week.
So I normally will break out what I think is the next best invention for winter days - our Wii.
All of them just love to dance and have been so excited for the Just Dance Kids 2014 game! It had a great variety of songs for all ages from preschool tunes to pre-teen favorites.
The kids have loved doing the dance competitions with each other and Emma danced so much she wore herself out! Even little Miss Anika was sore the next morning!
Just Dance Kids 2014 is a great Wii game to keep my kiddos active and healthy throughout the winter (and beyond!) - and the best part is that they don't even realize they are exercising!

What are some ways you keep your kids active in the winter?
We have lots of games that the kids like to play, but they love the ones where they can dance the most!

Thank you Ubisoft for sponsoring this post. To learn more about Just Dance Kids 2014, visit the Just Dance Facebook Page here.
 I was selected to review Just Dance Kids 2014 as a member of  Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Providence Festival of Trees

Photo c/o Dodge and Burn Studios
If you are in the Portland area this next weekend there is a fun festival to get you in the holiday spirit! The Portland Festival of Trees is a great holiday tradition that is in its 31st year and is presented by Fred Meyer. The festival is full of  a 100 beautifully decorated trees on display and showcases nearly 100,000 twinkling lights. There is also live music, a teddy bear hospital, Santa photos, and more!

The Portland Festival of Trees is made possible with the help of over 1,200 volunteers, and the event benefits many Providence Health & Services Programs, including the Providence Cancer Center, Providence Child Center, and the primary beneficiary this year is the Providence Heart & Vascular Institutes's new youth cardiac screening program Play Smart. (Read more about it HERE).

The Festival Hours:
Friday, December 6th from 10:30-5:00pm and
Saturday, December 7th from 9:00-5:00pm
Admission is $6.00 for adults, $5.00 for seniors, and $4.00 for children ages 3-12.

There is also a special gala evening on Thursday, December 5th from 5:30-10:00pm with a tree auction and dinner.

The festival is held at the Oregon Convention Center Exhibit Hall A, and tickets are available at Fred Meyer customer service centers, US Bank branches, or can be purchased HERE.

What a wonderful way to spend an afternoon with the ones you love while helping benefit those in need! Can't wait to show you pictures!
Photo c/o Dodge and Burns Studios

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #44

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have a wonderful day filled with lots of good food and surrounded by people that you love! We are at the beach with my dad and step-mom enjoying the Oregon coast and spending quality time together.

I'd love for you to link up things you are thankful for this year! 
If you've never stopped by before this is a weekly link up where you can share some of your favorite things you've created, or things that inspire you. If you are a blogger, link up to your post. If you aren't a blogger you can also link up from your Instagram or other social media page that you share on.

     I love connecting with each and every one of you and catching up. Thanks so much for helping me make this happen!

Create.Simplify.Inspire. #44

Willamette Valley Wonder Woman
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Willamette Valley Wonder Woman" width="250" height="250" /></a>

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Through My Child's Eyes.

As adults we seem to rush from one event to another.

From activity to activity.

Day to day.

Every year seems to fly faster and then before you know it the end of the year is here and it saddens me how quickly its over.

This is my Emma - looking at the Mt. Hood Railroad, anticipating her very first train ride.

Admiring everything, in awe - excited for the ride. Just absorbing the experience into her memory.

I love looking at this - looking through the eyes of my child.

It helps me slow life down just for a moment.

Happy Thanksgiving - I am grateful, for I am blessed.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Family and FruitsMax

“This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and FruitsMax but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #fruitsmax

Some people know me as the girl behind this blog, that Willamette Valley Wonder Woman. Other people know me as the President of our grade school's PTO in this little town. Some patients call me their nurse for eight hours.
The most important name I have though is 'Mom', and with the rise in health issues among youth that I've personally witnessed in my line of work, I'm always searching for ways to keep my children's nutrition in check.
My kids love fruit, but I have to face it - there's still no way that we consume enough servings everyday. Life gets busy, fresh fruit spoils quickly, and I've got the reputation of that 'mean mom' who won't buy those corn-syrup drenched canned fruits for my kids. I have to admit, there are some days I'm lucky if they eat a few slices of apple at lunch time.
And that's not right.
I'm not into most fads and pills that are out there, but recently my family had been using FruitsMax as an extra immune boost, and its just like the name sounds: fruits to the max. FruitsMax is a chewable fruit and probiotic supplement.
That's it. A combination of 21 fruits and L. Acidophilus probiotics.
What is L. Acidophilus probiotics? Well, nicknamed "Narine", they are organisms already in our digestive systems that help promote 'good' bacteria and kill the 'bad' bacteria.
It helps promote our digestive health.
My first question was, "How do they get all of those fruits into one chewable pill without loosing nutritional value?" So I checked into it. It's pretty cool. Its something called lyophilization technology and you can read more about it on their website.
It's great knowing that we can have something that has no preservatives, and 12 essential vitamins, 11 minerals, and all the great antioxidants that are in fruit when we just can't fit enough servings of fruits into our days.
The FruitsMax website can explain it way better than I can, so go check it out and see what you think. I researched it and found absolutely no negatives, so I tried it, and am loving the digestive health benefits that it offers!
 Right now FruitsMax is offering the first bottle to customers FREE and you just pay shipping and handling so you can try it and see for yourself, and if you sign up for their newsletters they will give you 15% off too!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cheddar & Chive Potato Latkes Hash Brown Recipe

I am a member of the Collective Bias®  Social Fabric® Community.  This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
#shop #cbias #oreidahashbrn
 My family and I love potatoes. I mean, who doesn't? Baked, mashed, fried, sliced, diced, ... the list goes on. Sometimes I like to make Latkes. If you've never heard of them before, they are like a Potato Pancake made from hash browns that are traditionally served with sour cream or applesauce.
I've always made them from scratch, scrubbing the potatoes, peeling, and shredding them. It's pretty time consuming and on busy weeknights with basketball practices and homework it just doesn't happen. But when I was browsing through Walmart the other day these Ore Ida shredded hash browns caught my eye, and I thought now this could save me some time! So I bought them, made my special cheddar and chive latkes and they turned out just as good, maybe even better than they normally do, and it took me half the time to make them!
What You Need:
2 eggs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup fresh finely chopped chives
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 cups of Ore Ida Shredded hash browns
Oil for frying
Salt and Pepper to taste
1. Crack eggs and pour flour and whisk in a large bowl.
2. Mix in chives and cheese.
3. Take thawed Ore Ida hash browns and gently blot between two paper napkins, removing and excess moisture (will not be much). Mix with the rest of the ingredients.
4. Pour 2 Tablespoons of oil into frying pan and heat over medium heat. Spoon potato mixture into pan, forming 'pancakes'. I make mine approx. 3" in diameter. Fry until golden brown, flip and continue until brown on both sides.
Makes approximately 12-15 latkes depending on the size
*I have personally found that my cast iron frying pan works the best so they don't stick.*
Serve them with sour cream and applesauce, or go kid-friendly with ranch and ketchup!

The new Ore Ida Hash browns packaging is also advertising a Disney's Frozen sweepstakes too! I checked it out online and there are thousands of prizes from Frozen tickets to $500 Visa cards and the grand prize is a family vacation to Atlantis, Paradise Island, Bahamas! You can enter the Disney Frozen sweepstakes here! 
Participating Walmart's are also doing some in-store demos of Ore Ida November 30th and December 1st so you can get more great cooking ideas!  (check your local Walmart to see if they are offering one of the demos!)


 What's your favorite potato recipe? I'd love to hear! I'm always looking for more ideas! Comment below and share.:)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

"Extra" Special Gift Wrap With Gum

I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias and it's advertiser. #GiveExtraGum #Shop
I love gifts that go a little above and beyond and have a little Extra personal touch to them. I wanted to do something like that this year for some of my loved ones, but I wasn't quite sure what to do. I've painted packages, added little ornaments, pretty bows and ribbons, but then one idea dawned on me when I was in the isle at Walmart one afternoon.
Yup. Extra gum.
What about making little snow flowers out of them? It's affordable, really quick and easy, and creative.  My kids (who absolutely love chewing gum) thought the idea was fabulous and had so much fun helping me decorate some presents.
These really are so simple to make and make a great statement.
What You Need:
1 package of Extra sugar free gum (makes three snow flowers)
Glue Dots
Pom Poms
Washi Tape
Curling Ribbon
Assortment of scrapbook paper
Kraft Wrapping Paper
Anything else you'd like to decorate with!
 1. Carefully attach a glue dot on the back side of the gum, sealing the wrapper together.
2. Attach to second stick of gum
3. Continue to add glue dots and gum sticks until all five sticks are stuck together
4. Using glue dots attach pom poms to top of the snow flower and

After the flowers are made, add them to your gifts by using glue dots. That way the gum can still be chewed as an added little bonus present ;)
Cute scrapbook paper for leaves and petals, add ribbons and tape... remember be creative!


 You can also follow along with Extra Gum on their Facebook for more great holiday ideas!
Remember, its not always what you buy, but the little things that are created from your heart that make the holiday season so magical!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

NW Food & Wine Fest Fun

I had never experienced the Northwest Food and Wine Festival until last weekend, and I had no idea what I had been missing out on! If the ticket price scares or detours you from this Portland event, I can assure you that its worth every penny. The variety of food and beverages here was amazing and it was so nice to get into an event and then not have to worry about paying for anything else for the evening (unless you chose to purchase wine for later!)

This wasn't just any food event. 60+ of the best restaurants and caterers were there, sharing their mouthwatering salads, meats, cheeses, pasta dishes, soups, and desserts.
Gracie's (Hotel Deluxe) had a braised lamb with cous cous and mint pesto that was so delicious.
The Ringside's roasted butternut squash soup was the best I've had in my life. Hands down.
 Deschutes Brewery surprised me by having a pumpkin cheesecake with a candy pecan streusel - yes it was as good as it sounds.
The food went on and on.
At first I was a little bit worried because of the crowd of people; worried that there might be long lines and wait times to sample - but I was wrong. As full of a house as it was there was still ample food, and Wayne and I traveled around all evening and really only had to wait for one dish (which was well worth the wait!)
We sampled a variety of wines from several regions in the Pacific Northwest with our complimentary wine glasses.
This turned into one of the best date nights we've had.

Wayne even ran into an old co-worker who now works for Terra Blanca and they were so generous to give us four bottles of wine to taste and review! I won't lie - some people looked a little jealous of our big box. ;)
We've tried their 2008 Signature Series Merlot and I have to admit that I'm still acquiring a taste for red wines, but there's was a wonderful surprise and I would definitely invest in a couple more bottles myself.

The Northwest Food and Wine Festival is definitely something I'll be highlighting on my calendar for next year!