Julia Child does Paleo

07/31/2014 - 41 comments
Julia Child does Paleo

Ok, not really.

French cooking would appear to be about as far from Paleo as you can get.

But if you actually take a look at Julia’s recipes, many of them easily are “Paleo” right out of the book, and some can be made that way with just a few minor substitutions. Which is no wonder the French look so good!

I actually think it would be fun to work through one of her cookbooks and make Paleo versions of all of the recipes.

Maybe I will.

Mastering the Art of French Cooking‘ has over 500 recipes. That should keep me busy for awhile!

The 12 recipes below would be first on my list of Julia’s recipes to try and make Paleo. They sound and look amazing!

8/15 is Julia’s birthday, she would have been 102 if she was still alive today. Maybe you will try one of this recipes to celebrate the amazing contributions she made to the way America cooks today.

Check out Inspired by Julia Child

by Kimberly Grabinski at

Which recipe would you choose?

Note: This post is a sponsored opportunity with

The chicken at the top of the stairs – defining boundaries for work-at-home parents

07/29/2014 - 30 comments
Defining boundaries for work-at-home parents

Defining boundaries for work-at-home parents

There is a special sort of challenge juggling day-to-day life when you work at home, and both my husband and I work out of the house. Which means not five minutes can go by without someone wanting to ask us a question, which does not work well with productivity.

We started out by telling the kids that if we are at our desks, it is “emergencies only” but if we come upstairs, then they are free to ask us whatever is on their mind. But it felt rather strange because if we happen to be at our desks for a 2 hour stretch and one of them wants to go play outside or needs help reaching something, they shouldn’t have to wait if we aren’t doing something that requires our 100% concentration.

We struggled to find the balance between “emergencies only” and “reasonable requests” for a very long time.

It took a chicken to help us solve the problem.

The other day I had been thinking maybe, like the old bachelor with the tie on the doorknob, that we need a signal. A signal that clearly defines whether we are available for “emergencies only” or “reasonable requests”. And I happened to have a foam chicken sitting on my desk.

So we explained to them that they could interrupt us at our desks for “reasonable requests” unless the chicken was sitting at the top of the stairs. If the chicken was there, then we are available for “emergencies only” while we are working. More often than not, we don’t actually use the chicken, because we don’t want to over-use it and have it lose its value.


It’s a weird little system but it actually seems to be working.

If you work from home, have you developed a system or signal to help your kids understand when you need some dedicated work time?



Back To School MUST-HAVES from Dollar General

07/27/2014 - 18 comments
Back To School Must Haves from Dollar General
This post brought to you by Dollar General. All opinions are 100% mine.

It’s funny to me how excited my kids get to shop for back-to-school. Don’t get me wrong, I love that they enjoy school, but it seems like school just ended and now all of the stores are promoting back-to-school sales and everywhere we go, the shelves are stocked with supplies and great new fall looks. I would have thought they would dread having to go back so soon, but they don’t. I guess being able to shop for brand new things takes the sting off of having to get up early again.

Recently my kids and I took a little trip to Dollar General and I allotted each of them $15 to spend on school supplies or fashion items. I told them to pick out their absolute must-have items as if this was the only school supply shopping they would get to do. We were there well over an hour as they scoured the store selecting, putting back and trading out items until they each had their “must-have” items.

I picked a few “must-haves” for myself too!

Back To School Must Haves from Dollar General

It’s amazing how much Dollar General manages to stock on their shelves, they really did have everything we would need for back to school. We don’t have a supplies list yet so we had to wing it but even if they don’t need everything they picked out at school, it is stuff they will use at home with their homework. Nothing we bought cost over $3 and most things were $1. With tax we spent $36.11.

My son’s most favorite items he picked out are the Zebra pen, the correction tape and the sticky notes. The Zebra pen is a special thing around here, it’s the only pen my husband will use and they are normally so expensive. It was only $2 at Dollar General! He loves having his Dad’s favorite pen. I think the correction tape & sticky notes make him feel more grown up. He also got a ruler, a leather bracelet, a notebook, 2 packs of stickers, a pencil sharpener and pencil grips.

My daughter’s favorite items she picked out are the pink fuzzy pencil bag, the pink fuzzy slap bracelet and the Pip Squeak markers. I really can’t blame her about the pink fuzzy stuff, it is really cute! She also got a ruler, crayons, pencil topper erasers, a pencil sharpener, sticky notes, a small notebook and headbands.

school supplies

I got some highlighters to help me keep track of their schedules this school year, staples for all of the papers they inevitably bring home, a shopping list for school lunches and a lint brush to make sure they head to school free of dog hair, which is not easy to manage around here.

back to school supplies

According to my receipt we purchased 24 items which works out to an average of about $1.50 each! I felt really accomplished after that shopping trip for back to school with Dollar General because we got really great prices on everything. And I can’t tell you how happy I am to have a set of highlighters – they were only $2!!!

Like Dollar General on Facebook! Follow @DollarGeneral on Twitter to keep up with updates from Dollar General!

What is your favorite thing about shopping at Dollar General for back-to-school?

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Fitness, I Said So, Kids activities, NWI Local, Parenting

And so it begins – Kenpo runs in the family!

07/25/2014 - 34 comments
Tracy's Kenpo Karate

My kids had their first Kenpo Karate lesson last week, and I can’t even begin to explain how proud and excited I am for them to finally start learning. Kenpo was a very large part of my life in my 20′s and along with them, I have gone back to it after a 10 year absence.

It’s amazing how much I remember, and how well my body remembers as well.

Tracy's Kenpo Karate

After my first lesson 2 weeks ago, I was SO SORE! Martial Arts works muscles that you didn’t know that you had, and I am excited to have this as part of my fitness routine again, not to mention the confidence it provides knowing I can defend myself if needed.

I hope my kids continue in Kenpo and develop the same passion for it that I have. It’s very hard not to pressure them because in my mind I already envision their path to black belt, but in the end I know it needs to be their decision.

Do you or your kids study martial arts?

Brand Campaigns

Pokémon is coming to Six Flags!

07/24/2014 - 2 comments
pokemon toys

My kids have asked me quite a few times this summer to go to Six Flags. We are just under 2 hours from Six Flags Great America in Illinois and the last time we went we had a great time. Who doesn’t love Six Flags?


When my son heard about the latest thing going on at Six Flags, however, he has asked me every day if we can go.

You see, Pokémon, one of his favorite things, is coming to Six Flags in August!

What is it?

On August 10th, Six Flags will host the Pokémon Trainer Challenge, and guests in each participating park will have an opportunity for a chance to win a 4-pack of 2015 Season Passes to Six Flags, plus over $250 worth of Pokémon toys!

In addition, on August 10th, 17th, 23rd and 24th Six Flags guests will also be able to visit the Pokémon branded booth inside each park, providing kids with the opportunity to check out some of the hottest new Pokémon toys.  Timing is perfect as the same Pokémon Toys will be arriving at local retailers then as well (Walmart, ToysRUs).  Not only can kids try out the products, but they can also take their photo next to a life-size Ashe!

Where is it?

5 Six Flags parks across the USA - Participating markets include Chicago, NJ, Dallas, Atlanta and LA.

When is it?

The Trainer Challenge is August 10th and the Pokémon branded booth will be in the parks listed above on August 10th, 17th and 24th.

All of this is to help promote some great new Pokémon toys that will be headed to stores in August as well. I have a sneak peak of some of the toys below!

pokemon toys

Do you have a Pokemon fan in your life? Are you near one of the 5 Six Flags that are hosting the Pokémon event?



Take 5 small steps to a healthier life with United healthcare and enter to win!

07/23/2014 - 22 comments
5 Small Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

Sometimes it can feel daunting to make healthy changes in your life.

It can feel like there are so many things you should be doing, that sometimes your don’t bother to start at all because it seems overwhelming.

And difficult.

I’m not going to lie, leading a healthy life can be difficult, especially at first.

But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t tackle it with small, manageable changes that can actually make a huge difference.

5 Small Steps to a Healthier Lifestyle

1. Drink more water

This really is easy. Whether you simply add water to your daily routine, or better yet, replace sugar-filled drinks with water, every little bit of water you add to your diet can help you feel more energetic, improve your digestion and make you look and feel better.

2. Walk more

This may sound difficult, but you don’t have to make a conscious effort to put on walking shoes and go for a stroll. Park farther away from the store. Get up from your desk more frequently. Take the long way from your car to your office each day. Add a few extra steps to everything you do and they will add up.

3. Get some vitamin D

Spending just 10 minutes in the sun each day can improve your mood and your health. Try it. I bet you feel better and find you have more energy to tackle your day.

4. Take a probiotic

Probiotics have been shown to improve your gut health which has a direct correlation with a healthy immune system. Getting your gut in balance can go a long way towards making you feel better.

5. Go to sleep 1/2 hour earlier

Sleep is so critical to a healthy life, and lack of sleep can cause you to feel tired and negatively affect your immune system. Get caught up on those ZZZs and you will notice a huge improvement in how you feel.

United Healthcare recognizes how important and effective these small steps can be and they want to DARE YOU!

We Dare You to Share Campaign from United Healthcare

United Healthcare dares you take a small step every day to a healthier life! Their July dares are fun and can help you get even healthier.


I have taken 2 of the dares so far, my favorite being the “share a photo” dare. The park is such a great place. When we think of a park, we picture it as a place where kids go to have fun and parents sit on a bench watching them and chatting with other parents. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Use a visit to the park as a way for you to get active too. If the park isn’t too crowded, join your kids on the playground equipment. Push them on a swing, heck let them push YOU on a swing. Try and climb the monkey bars. Or at least talk a walk around the play area while your kids play.

I submitted a photo I took the other day. We were at the park behind the Hamill Family Play Zoo at Brookfield Zoo where they did a ladybug release of 3,000 ladybugs. The kids had a BLAST!


It’s really easy to implement these small changes and even easier to take these dares from United Healthcare and enter to win great prizes. There weekly prizes and a grand prize for each dare category.

What are you waiting for?

I dare you!

Did you take one of the dares? Which one?

 Note: this is part of a sponsored campaign with United Healthcare. Opinions are my own.